Aetna sells Medicare drug business, clearing way for $69 billion CVS merger

Aetna sells Medicare drug business, clearing way for $69 billion CVS merger
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Health insurer Aetna Inc. said Thursday that it plans to sell its Medicare prescription drug plan business to WellCare Health Plans Inc., according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The sale is contingent on approval of Aetna's merger with CVS Health, which requires approval by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and other regulators, according to the filing. The price of the sale was not disclosed.

Aetna said the sale "is a significant step toward completing the DOJ’s review of the CVS Health Transaction."


"Aetna and CVS Health continue to engage in productive discussions with the DOJ. Aetna’s expectations regarding the timing of the closing of the CVS Health Transaction remain unchanged," the SEC filing reads.

WellCare is a small health insurer based in Tampa, Fla.

Reuters reported that the sale is part of an effort by Aetna to avoid an antitrust lawsuit over the level of control it will have in the Medicare prescription drug market following its merger with CVS.

CVS last year agreed to buy Aetna for $69 billion.

If approved, the merger of the nation’s largest pharmacy and third-largest health insurer could have major implications for the industry. The deal has been expected to close in the second half of this year.

CVS and Aetna have said the merger will lower costs for consumers.