The Department of Justice (DOJ) has asked a federal judge to approve the merger of CVS and Aetna, the final step holding up the completion of the sale, which was officially sanctioned by the feds in late 2018.
In the motion (PDF), DOJ says it's time for Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to render a final approval of the deal because it remains "in the public interest." DOJ also noted that all requirements of antitrust law have been met.
DOJ made a similar argument last week, saying that it still believes its deal with the two companies to approve the merger will address competition concerns after reviewing more than 170 public comments on the matter. DOJ's comments also echo a legal brief it filed in the case in December.
Last October, the DOJ approved the merger of the two major pharmaceutical and health insurance providers on the condition that Aetna would sell its Medicare drug business to WellCare. WellCare completed the acquisition of Aetna's Part D business in December.
Beyond selling off the Medicare drug division, the DOJ also asked for a 60-day waiting period for people and organizations to submit written comments pertaining to the deal. CVS and Aetna also had to transfer all data relating to Aetna’s individual prescription drug plan business to WellCare.
Shortly after the merger closed, Leon requested that prosecutors provide additional information about the terms of the deal and concrete evidence as to why the two companies should not be forced to operate separately. Leon has allowed the merger to move forward as he reviews the deal.
Critics of the deal, including the American Medical Association, feared that it could substantially lessen the competition around individual prescription drug plans.