Report: Federal judge hears arguments in ESI-Medco merger case

NACDS, NCPA, independents seek to keep Medco assets, operations separate from ESI while lawsuit pending

NEW YORK — A federal judge in Pittsburgh will rule "later" on whether to block or allow a merger between pharmacy benefit managers Medco Health Solutions and Express Scripts, and is considering a request by two trade groups seeking to keep Medco's operations and assets separate from ESI while the lawsuit is pending, according to published reports.

Bloomberg reported Wednesday that attorneys for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association and independent pharmacies and ESI argued for three hours before judge Cathy Bissoon of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. The pharmacy groups argued that the PBMs' merger would violate antitrust laws and reduce services to retail pharmacy customers. The groups filed the suit on March 29 following the Federal Trade Commission's approval of the merger.

ESI's attorneys countered that stopping the $29.1 billion merger would cause significant harm to the PBM because it already had spent more than $230 million on integration and sharing of information.

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