Judge tells CVS, Aetna to keep operations separate during antitrust review

A federal judge who has been reviewing the $69 billion merger between CVS Health and Aetna has told the two companies to keep some operations separate during the ongoing antitrust process, The New York Times reported.

The deal, which brings together one of the nation’s largest retail pharmacy chains and pharmacy benefit managers with the nation’s third largest health insurance provider, was approved by regulators earlier this year, including the Department of Justice. However, the deal also must pass through the courts. CVS Health has already closed the deal.

Judge Richard J. Leon, of the United States District Court in the District of Columbia, previously signaled he did not approve of the “rubber stamp” treatment CVS Health’s acquisition of Aetna had been given by the government and regulators and was not satisfied that the deal would not create antitrust issues.

In its preliminary approval of the deal, the DOJ required Aetna to divest its Medicare Part D business, which WellCare Health Plans agreed to acquire in October.

Currently, as the process continues, Judge Leon proposed a government monitor assigned to ensure the entities keep their businesses separate. He also told the companies to “preserve the ability to unwind CVS’ acquisition of Aetna in the event an unwinding is necessary,” The NY Times reported.

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