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CVS completed its acquisition of Aetna on Wednesday, officially creating a health-care powerhouse.

The deal between one of the country’s largest insurers and one of the largest pharmacy benefit managers was a year in the making. The companies said the merger will usher in a new era of reduced costs to patients.

{mosads}“By delivering the combined capabilities of our two leading organizations, we will transform the consumer health experience and build healthier communities through a new innovative health care model that is local, easier to use, less expensive and puts consumers at the center of their care,” said CVS Health president and CEO Larry J. Merlo.

The final deal closed at $212 per share, or approximately $70 billion, an increase from the previous agreement of $69 billion, CVS said. Including the assumption of Aetna’s debt, the total value of the transaction is $78 billion.

The companies announced the deal in December and received preliminary approval from the Department of Justice in October.

CVS needed final approval from state insurance regulators where Aetna sells its coverage. New York was the final state to grant approval earlier this week.

To ease its approval, Aetna said it would sell its Medicare Part D business to WellCare Health Plans.

The companies plan to turn CVS’s 10,000 pharmacies and clinics into community-based sites of care with nurses and other health professionals available to give diagnoses or do lab work.

The merger also means that there will no longer be any independent pharmacy benefit managers operating in the U.S. These drug pricing middlemen negotiate drug prices between drug companies and insurers.

Tags Aetna CVS Health care merger pharmacy benefits manager

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