Judge to Decide Fate of Lawsuit against Express Scripts
Leonard, Kim, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Express Scripts Inc. acquired rival pharmacy benefits manager Medco Health Solutions Inc. a week ago for $29.1 billion. Customers of the now-merged company still use the same cards to get prescriptions filled, and pharmacies are paid reimbursements under the same, separate rates.
The National Association of Chain Drug Stores, National Community Pharmacists Association and 16 Pennsylvania drugstores and other businesses want to keep it that way.
U.S. District Court Judge Cathy Bissoon in Pittsburgh heard arguments on Tuesday on a lawsuit filed by those groups to keep Express Scripts and Medco from integrating their businesses, while the lawsuit challenge to the merger is considered.
A combined Express Scripts and Medco weakens competition, and will slash already-shrinking payments to small pharmacies and force customers to order drugs by mail, forcing many small drugstores to close, attorney John R. Robertson, representing the drugstore groups, argued.
"We believe it will harm pharmacies and customers, consumers all across America," he said.
Express Scripts attorneys, arguing for the case to be dismissed, called the pharmacy groups' claims speculative. They said $230 million already has been spent on plans to combine the companies and $1 billion in anticipated efficiencies that the deal promises will be in jeapordy the longer the businesses' integration is delayed.
True competition between the two companies ended when the merger was announced in July, attorney Clifford Aronson said. …