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Health Insurer Cigna To Pay $67 Billion For Express Scripts

Health insurer Cigna is looking to increase its muscle by buying Express Scripts, a leading manager of prescription benefits.

Health insurance giant Cigna is buying Express Scripts, the company that administers prescription drug insurance plans millions of Americans, in a deal worth $67 billion, including $15 billion in Express Scripts' debt.

The proposed combination is the latest in a string of mergers in the health care industry. Drugstore chains, pharmacy benefit managers and insurers are realigning to gain market share, enhance negotiating leverage and cut costs.

Cigna is one of the nation's largest insurance companies. Express Scripts is the second-biggest PBM; it manages prescription drug benefits for about 80 million people.

In December, CVS Health, whose Caremark PBM competes with Express Scripts, said it intends to buy health insurance giant Aetna.

Cigna and Express Scripts say the combination of the companies will make health care simpler for their customers and will cut costs.

The companies say they expect the deal to close by the end of 2018, but it must pass antitrust and regulatory scrutiny.

The merger announcement comes in the same week that Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb both warned the pharmaceutical industry that they intend to take actions to lower prescription drug prices.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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