BESSEMER, Ala. (Sept. 20) – A judge’s decision to allow the merger between UnitedHealth Group and Change Healthcare to move forward is likely to prove detrimental to patients, providers, and taxpayers, officials with American Pharmacy Cooperative, Inc. (APCI), said today.
In a sealed opinion issued late Monday, District of Columbia Judge Carl Nichols blocked the Department of Justice’s attempt to intervene in the case. The DOJ sued in federal court on Feb. 24 to stop the $13 billion acquisition, arguing that the deal would provide UnitedHealth with patient information that it could use against competitors.
“We’ve seen time and again that consolidations in healthcare have been bad for patients and this particular acquisition raises many anticompetitive concerns,” said Tim Hamrick, APCI CEO. “We are extremely disappointed with the ruling that will allow this merger between UHG and Change to move forward. Nonetheless, APCI commends and thanks the Department of Justice and their attorneys for fighting against further consolidation in American healthcare.”
APCI staunchly opposed the acquisition since it was first announced, writing in a Sept. 29, 2021, letter to the Justice Department that the merger could “harm competition directly” and may give UHG “a competitive advantage at the expense of provider and payer competitors as well as patients.”
“Horizontal and vertical integration has wrought havoc in the prescription drug market and has resulted in reduced competition, reduced patient choice, and rising prices for patients,” said Greg Reybold, Director of Healthcare Policy and General Counsel at APCI. “While this ruling is a significant blow, APCI will continue to oppose future consolidation in the insurer/PBM space, as we are currently doing with the proposed acquisition of Magellan Rx by Prime Therapeutics.”
Reybold added that APCI will continue to engage with the Federal Trade Commission and Congress in efforts to rein in anti-competitive practices of pharmacy benefit managers and fight further horizontal and vertical integration in the PBM/insurer/healthcare space.