US prescription firm Express Scripts pens £18bn takeover of rival Medco

US MEDICINE administrator Express Scripts said it had bought its rival Medco Health Solutions for $29.1bn (£18bn) yesterday.

The deal creates a US powerhouse in managing drug prescriptions – but investors remained unsure that it would get past regulators on antitrust grounds.

It would give the combined group control of at least 30 per cent of the US drug benefits market and greater leverage to negotiate lower drug prices for its clients such as US employers.

In a statement, Express Scripts chief executive George Paz said the takeover was “the right deal at the right time for the right reasons.”

He defended the deal as helping to drive out waste in the healthcare system and protect people from rising costs. “The merger with Medco will accelerate our efforts to create greater efficiencies in the healthcare system,” he said.

Express Scripts will pay $71.36 per Medco share, a 28 per cent premium to Medco’s closing price on Wednesday. Medco shareholders will receive $28.80 cash and 0.81 Express Scripts share for each Medco share.

Medco shares rose yesterday but remained below the offer price as investors doubted the deal would win the approval of regulators.

“It’s like a coin flip right now about whether it gets approved or not,” Gabelli & Co analyst Jeff Jonas said.