Sunday, April 01, 2012

Weekend Update

The House and the Senate are now in recess for two weeks, and tomorrow is National Employee Benefits Day.

Over the next week we could see the Federal Trade Commission rule on whether or not the proposed merger of two large prescription benefit managers Express Scripts and Medco comply with federal antitrust laws. The parties intelligently included provisions in their deal that would spin off certain businesses in order to satisfy the regulators. Press reports indicate that the FTC asked the parties objecting to the deal if there were other changes that could be made to satisfy them. In other words, the deal may look somewhat different if the FTC rules  in favor of the deal. 

Forbes reports that "the Express Scripts–Medco merger may go through very soon, there is fresh speculation that the Walgreen's drug store chain may enter into a new deal with Express Scripts" within the next month or two. As noted in the FEHBlog Walgreens and Express Scripts had a contract spat last year that lead Walgreens to stop serving Express Scripts members. (This explains why your local CVS pharmacy has signs reading "Welcome Express Scripts members." Walgreens lost quite a bit of business as a result of the breakup.

As the FEHBlog has noted several state attorneys general are contemplating a lawsuit if the FTC approves the merger, and drug store trade associations are not leaving anything to chance. The Wall Street Journal reports that the trade associations are seeking a temporary restraining order in federal court against the merger.  The Journal also reports that legal experts predict that the associations will have a very tough row to hoe if the FTC approves the deal.

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