Court dismisses claims over Express Scripts: Medco merger

NEW YORK Tue Aug 28, 2012 7:50am IST

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts Inc (ESRX.O) on Monday won the dismissal of most legal claims that its $29 billion acquisition of Medco Health Solutions Inc MHS.F violates federal antitrust law.

In a lawsuit filed in March, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association and several independent pharmacies alleged that the merger would reduce competition and lead to less consumer choice and higher prescription drug prices.

In a decision issued on Monday, U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon in Pittsburgh dismissed most of the claims.

She dismissed claims the plaintiffs alleged arose in the market for provision of drugs to the beneficiaries of large employers, but allowed the plaintiffs to replead by September 10.

Judge Bissoon also allowed plaintiffs' claims involving the market for clinical specialty drugs to move forward.

Chrissy Kopple, a spokeswoman for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, said it was reviewing the decision.

Brian Henry, a spokesman for Express Scripts, said the company had no comment.

Bissoon had previously rejected a request by the plaintiffs to issue a preliminary injunction to force Express Scripts to divest Medco or keep it separate.

Express Scripts completed the merger in April after the U.S. Federal Trade investigation announced that it had closed its investigation into the deal, which combined two of the three largest U.S. pharmacy benefit companies.

The case is National Association of Chain Drug Stores et al v. Express Scripts Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania, No. 12-00395. (Reporting by Andrew Longstreth; Editing by Richard Pullin)