Pharmacy chain CVS Health Corp won US antitrust approval for its $69 billion acquisition of health insurer Aetna Inc, the Justice Department said on Wednesday, paving the way for a combination the companies say can help cut soaring US healthcare costs.
It is the second large recent healthcare deal to win a thumbs up from the US Justice Department. The agency gave the green light to health insurer Cigna Corp's $52 billion acquisition of the nation's largest pharmacy benefit manager (PBM), Express Scripts Holding Co, on Sept. 17.
Shares of CVS and Aetna each rose about 1 percent on Wednesday, a day when the broader market was sharply lower, with CVS trading at $80.25 and Aetna at $206.00.
The deal was approved on condition that the company's sell Aetna's Medicare Part D prescription drug business, the Justice department said.
Aetna last month said it would sell all of its standalone prescription drug plans for the government Medicare program for Americans aged 65 and older and the disabled to WellCare Health Plans Inc, paving the way for the deal's approval.
Without the divestiture the two companies would have owned more than a 30 percent share of the Medicare Part D drug plans, creating concern about the amount of control the new CVS would have had over the Medicare prescription drug market.
Together the two have 6.8 million members in Medicare Part D drug plans, the Justice Department said.