The minions in the press of those who do not want the Express Scripts acquisition of Medco to occur have been burning up their keyboards! At WBC (wbcbaltimore.com), we’ve been working the phones to gain better insight to the status of this transaction. Will the new proposed “Expredco” actually help reduce prescription drug costs or will it reduce consumer choice? These are the issues being debated in Washington.
Lots of stories about skepticism of the deal are being floated by those who oppose it in order to try and gin up more lemmings to follow their lead. Lobbyists are working overtime to reach their favorite Congressional contact. Let’s face it, lobbyists get paid to put the kabossh on deals their clients don’t like. Supermarkets and community pharmacists say no! We knew the deal was headed for approval when the press releases issued this week by various supermarket spokespeople were “this deal will put an end to our ability to offer $4 generics.” Ha! That sounds like a panic statement.
We tend to agree with Fitch’s assessment that the deal will get done. Fitch believes that the broader consumer interests of creating better pricing concessions and thus, help reduce health care costs, will ultimately win the day and enable the FTC to approve the deal. ESI is prepared to divest some business operations (particularly in the Specialty area) if that becomes a condition of approval.
As we’ve stated previously, the combined companies still only represent around 30% – 35% of all Rx’s being filled, so it’s far from the mega-monopoly that is being presented by organizations such as the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association and the Food Marketing Institute. The FTC is expected to announce their decision by the end of February of very early in March. Stay tuned!