NCPA calls on FTC to block UnitedHealth Group, Change Healthcare acquisition

The National Community Pharmacists Association is urging the Federal Trade Commission to block UnitedHealth Group's acquisition of Change Healthcare, according to a Feb. 2 letter to the organization.

The pharmacist advocacy group is claiming that consolidation between payers and data analytics firms like Change Healthcare could result in anticompetitive behavior. NCPA argues that pharmacy benefit managers and data analytics firms have access to data from competing payers, which could give the payers that own them a leg up. 

The proposed $13 billion acquisition — which would combine Change Healthcare with UnitedHealth subsidiary Optum — would specifically give UnitedHealth Group access to Change Healthcare's eRx switch, which would put information collection in the payer's hands, giving it a trove of competitive insights and the "keys to the kingdom," according to the letter.

"The proposed acquisition ... will exponentially increase the ability of vertically integrated UHG-Optum-OptumRx to exploit competitor data to its advantage, including targeting specific patients and steering business to OptumRx," the group wrote. 

The deal is slated to close in April.

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