Pharmacists challenge $8B UnitedHealth, Change Healthcare merger

The National Community Pharmacists Association brought complaints to the Justice Department regarding UnitedHealth Group's $8 billion acquisition of Change Healthcare. 

The organization claimed the merger would lead to an "unfair competitive advantage for a company that is already dominant," according to a Sept. 30 news release.

Specifically, the organization cited concerns that Change Healthcare's data collection — which usually is sent to pharmacy benefit managers — could unfairly fuel UnitedHealth Group subsidiary Optum. Chance Healthcare bridges claims between pharmacies to insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers. 

"This deal would give UHG a trove of intelligence on its smaller competitors, including thousands of independent pharmacies and their patients," NCPA CEO Douglas Hoey said. "We believe it would use that intelligence to steer patients away from local pharmacies and send them to their own mail-order business."

An Optum spokesperson said the merger will streamline key processes. 

"Optum and Change Healthcare share a vision for better health outcomes and experiences for everyone, at lower cost," an Optum spokesperson told Becker's. "With distinct and complementary capabilities, this combination will help health care providers and payers better serve patients by more effectively connecting and simplifying key clinical, administrative and payment processes to the benefit of the health system and the people we serve."

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