Will Medco buy Aetna PBM?

September 10, 2009

Medco Health Solutions is rumored to be the lead bidder to acquire Aetna's PBM operation.

Medco Health Solutions is rumored to be the lead bidder to acquire Aetna’s PBM operation.

At press time, neither Aetna nor Medco would comment on the speculation.

Express Scripts Inc. recently agreed to buy WellPoint Inc.'s pharmacy benefit unit for $4.68 billion.

Reuters reports that the Aetna PBM appears to be attracting little interest from potential buyers, and that the auction might end if Aetna fails to get the right price.

While a Medco deal may not yield the multiples Wall Street would like, it could make good business sense for Aetna and Medco through their shared client base, according to F. Randy Vogenberg, RPh, PhD, principal, Institute for Integrated Healthcare, Sharon, Mass.

“Both have a large portfolio of self insured employer or [administrative service] business and the efficiencies Medco could bring to Aetna as well as an opportunity to better integrate medical and pharmacy would provide market value to clients, akin to WellPoint-Express Scripts,” he says.

It’s also been reported that CIGNA is evaluating the future of its PBM business. CIGNA spokesperson Chris Curran says that CIGNA will continue to monitor and re-evaluate its model as circumstances and environmental factors can change.

“At this point in time, given the prevailing environment and the performance of our PBM, we are satisfied that our current approach is in the best interests of our customers and shareholders,” he says.