Report: CVS in talks to buy Aetna

CVS Pharmacy
Aetna currently has a pharmacy benefits management contract with CVS that expires in 2020 and had offered hints that it could be looking at a closer relationship with CVS. (Mike Mozart/CC BY 2.0)

CVS Health is reportedly in talks to buy Aetna in a deal that would make major waves in the healthcare industry.

Citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reported that CVS had offered to buy the health insurance company for more than $200 per share. The deal could value Aetna at more than $66 billion. 

Aetna currently has a pharmacy benefits management contract with CVS that expires in 2020, and CEO Mark Bertolini had hinted that the insurer could be looking at a closer relationship with CVS. But Anthem’s announcement that it would contract with CVS to create its own PBM led some to speculate that an Aetna-CVS merger was unlikely.

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This is not the first blockbuster deal that Aetna has tried to execute. In July 2015, it announced that it planned to acquire Humana, but the Department of Justice sued to block the deal on antitrust grounds and a federal judge ruled in the government’s favor. The two insurers formally terminated their merger agreement in February 2017.

After news broke of the potential CVS-Aetna deal, the insurer's stock jumped. Shares were selling for around $161 earlier in the afternoon, and a little after 4 p.m. they had soared to about $180.

In response to an email from FierceHealthcare seeking comment on the potential deal, a CVS spokesman said the company doesn't comment on market rumors. An Aetna spokesperson also said the insurer doesn't comment on rumors or speculation.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include a response from Aetna.