Skip to main content

Cigna–Express Scripts Secures Final Regulatory Approval

Analysis  |  By Steven Porter  
   December 19, 2018

The $71 billion deal, which joins a major insurer with a PBM, is expected to close Thursday.

A massive merger between health insurance giant Cigna and pharmacy benefit management firm Express Scripts has secured final regulatory approval.

Following conditional approvals last week from California and New York, regulators in New Jersey gave their go-ahead Tuesday, Cigna said in a filing Wednesday to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The deal is expected to close on Thursday.

Stock prices for Cigna and Express Scripts rose in mid-morning trading Wednesday on the news.

Related: Walmart, Express Scripts Sign 3-Year Prescription Drug Extension

Related: CVS-Aetna Deal Tests Who Has the Right Data

Related: CVS-Aetna Forcing Hospitals to Rethink Their Business Models

The deal calls for Cigna to pay $58 billion for Express Scripts and take on $13 billion in the PBM's debt, resulting in a total transaction value of about $71 billion, according to New York regulators.

The regulatory approval comes as a similar tie-up between CVS Health and Aetna, valued at about $70 billion, faces scrutiny in a federal courtroom after earning sign-offs from federal and state regulators and closing the deal last month.

While consolidation across the healthcare payer/provider landscape has been common for years, these two mergers are part of a push to better coordinate care in an environment that's increasingly consumer-driven and decreasingly hospital-centric.

How well CVS-Aetna and Cigna–Express Scripts translate data into actionable insights is likely to be a major factor determining how successful each couple ultimately becomes.

"With Express Scripts, we'll be better equipped to understand, support, and inform physicians based on the breadth of data the combined company will be able to generate from the billions of customer touchpoints we'll have," Cigna CEO David Cordani told analysts on an earnings call last May.

As is the case industrywide, the end goal is to figure out how to rein in costs while providing high-quality care.

Steven Porter is an associate content manager and Strategy editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

Get the latest on healthcare leadership in your inbox.