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The Justice Department’s approval of the $69 billion merger between CVS Health and Aetna on Wednesday caps a wave of consolidation among giant health care players that could leave American consumers with less control over their medical care and prescription drugs.
The approval marks the close of an era, during which powerful pharmacy benefit managers brokered drug prices among pharmaceutical companies, insurers and employers.
But a combined CVS-Aetna may be even more formidable. As the last major free-standing pharmacy manager, CVS Health had revenues of about $185 billion last year, and provided prescription plans to roughly 94 million customers. Aetna, one of the nation’s largest insurers with about $60 billion in revenue last year, covers 22 million people in its health plans.