CVS rebuffs oversight monitor as D.C. court reviews Aetna deal

CVS pharmacy
CVS argued it doesn't need a court monitor to ensure it adheres to voluntary conditions while the court reviews its Aetna acquisition. (Mike Mozart/CC BY 2.0)

CVS told a D.C. district court on Thursday that a court-appointed monitor is unnecessary to ensure the company keeps Aetna's operations separate as the court reviews the $69 billion transaction.

The company argued that voluntary conditions to keep aspects of Aetna's business separate are sufficient during the court's Tunney Act proceeding to evaluate a settlement in which Aetna sold its Part D business to WellCare. 

During a hearing earlier this week, D.C District Judge Richard Leon appeared open to allowing CVS' acquisition to move forward while he conducts a review. The company said it would adhere to certain conditions, including allowing Aetna to operate as a separate business, allowing Aetna to retain control over its product offerings, maintaining Aetna employees’ current compensation and benefits and upholding a firewall to prevent the exchange of sensitive, competitive information between the two companies. 

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Leon said the conditions "struck [him] as appropriate," but suggested a monitor would be necessary to ensure CVS adheres to those actions. 

RELATED: Federal judge satisfied with CVS' plan to keep Aetna operations separate pending approval

On Thursday, CVS said in a filing (PDF) that there "is no need for an order from this Court or oversight from a monitor," arguing that the court did not impose a monitor during AT&T's purchase of Time Warner earlier this year. Attorneys added that the costs and burden of a monitor outweigh any benefits. 

Instead, the company promised to submit quarterly reports to the court or give 30 days notice if it wants to change or end one of the commitments. 

“CVS reiterates that it is fully committed to assisting the Court in the Tunney Act process, and it has demonstrated that commitment through its voluntary undertakings," CVS wrote in its filings. "In these circumstances, the Court should accept CVS’s assurances, bolstered by quarterly sworn declarations, without issuing a formal order or imposing the burdens of a monitor.”

RELATED: CVS-Aetna merger hits a snag as federal judge asks DOJ for more information

In a separate letter, the Department of Justice argued that while the conditions were "unnecessary and inappropriate," it has no objections to the company's voluntary commitment. 

CVS and Aetna closed their merger late last month, but it's been held up in court after Leon accused the DOJ of treating him like a "rubber stamp." 

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