Health insurer Cigna to buy Express Scripts for about Rs. 52 billion

The pharmacy benefits business, which tries to negotiate down the price of prescription medicines for large employers, has drawn fire from the Trump administration and Congress, who have questioned whether those discounts are really being passed on to consumers. Cigna’s deal follows close on the heels of a rival $69-billion merger between CVS Health Corp (CVS.N) and health insurer Aetna Inc (AET.N), announced in December. Together, the transactions would represent a massive consolidation of the market for managing employees’ prescription drug benefits, prompting some experts to question whether they will be approved. “Employers are growing increasingly frustrated with the cost of prescription drugs and a lack of transparency into the economics of how this works,” said Jim Winkler, senior vice president for health at benefits manager and broker Aon, part of Aon Plc (AON.N). Cigna and Express Scripts say the combination will lower costs for corporate clients by giving them more coordination between medical care and pharmacy benefits, particularly for pricey specialty drugs. “Our employer clients will be delighted with that,” Cigna Chief Executive David Cordani said in an interview. It could help Cigna more closely manage how costly drugs are prescribed and delivered to patients, and fend off potential competition from new players such as All told, the companies project $600 million in annual savings. Express Scripts shares were up 8 percent at $79.29 afternoon, but they were trading 12.6 percent below the current value of the bid, suggesting that some investors see difficulties closing the deal. Cigna shares fell 11.5 percent to $171.86.

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