Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Medco Advances on Likely Merger

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Medco Advances on Likely Merger

Article excerpt

Shares of Medco Health Solutions Inc. rose 3 percent Wednesday after the Franklin Lakes-based pharmacy benefits manager said that its proposed $29.1 billion takeover by Express Scripts Inc. of St. Louis could close as early as next week, even though the deal still awaits federal regulatory approval.

The new company would be based in St. Louis, leading to speculation that many jobs could be lost in Bergen County, where Medco employs more than 2,000 people, making it one of the county's largest employers. Another 1,200 employees work at a Medco mail- order pharmacy in Willingboro.

The proposed deal between Medco, the nation's largest pharmacy benefits manager, and Express Scripts of St. Louis, the No. 3 benefits manager, was announced last summer. The transaction has been under antitrust review by the Federal Trade Commission.

Although the FTC has not announced a decision, both Medco and Express Scripts filed documents Wednesday morning with the Securities and Exchange Commission, saying that the deal could close during the week of April 2.

"We continue to work collaboratively and constructively with the FTC, and the process is moving forward," Medco spokeswoman Jennifer Luddy said.

The takeover has been opposed by pharmacy trade groups, which say that it would reduce competition and hurt small drugstores. In a conference call Wednesday, a group called Pharmacy Choice and Access Now called for the FTC to reject the merger or, if it is approved, for state attorneys general to challenge it.

"Losing access to neighborhood pharmacies is a bad deal for consumers," said one of the speakers, Steve Pociask, president of the American Consumer Institute.

Medco says the merger would slice $1 billion in costs to consumers because the combined company could get the best prices from drug companies. …

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