CVS Health and Aetna $69 billion merger is approved with conditions

Pharmacy chain CVS Health won U.S. antitrust approval for its $69 billion acquisition of health insurer Aetna, the Justice Department said on Wednesday, paving the way for a combination with potential to cut U.S. health care costs for consumers.

Pharmacy chain CVS Health won U.S. antitrust approval for its $69 billion acquisition of health insurer Aetna, the Justice Department said on Wednesday, paving the way for a combination with potential to cut U.S. health care costs for consumers. The merger approval caps a wave of consolidation among large health care companies that some say could leave U.S. consumers with less control over their medical care and prescription drugs. As the last major free-standing pharmacy manager, CVS Health had revenues of about $185 billion last year, and provided prescription plans to approximately 94 million customers. Aetna covers 22 million people in its health plans. The two companies say that they will be better able to coordinate care for consumers as the mergers help tighten cost controls. Larry J. Merlo, the CEO of CVS Health, said in a statement that the approval "is an important step toward bringing together the strengths and capabilities of our two companies to improve the consumer health care experience." State regulators and consumer groups have raised concerns about the effect of the merger, saying that the lack of large pharmacy managers that are not affiliated with insurers could make it difficult for smaller competitors in either sector.