Merger combines third-largest health insurer with CVS’s network of pharmacies.
U.S. District Judge Richard Leon had spent a number of months questioning whether the settlement did enough to protect competition and consumers in health-care markets, raising the possibility that he might not approve the deal.
The judge, in a first for a court review of a government merger settlement, convened hearings to consider live witness testimony from the deal’s critics who said the Justice Department’s deal with the companies was inadequate.
Judge Leon said the critics’ testimony ultimately was unpersuasive. He noted that the health-care markets at issue in the case “are not only very competitive today, but are likely to remain so post-merger.”
The settlement “is well within the reaches of the public interest,” the judge concluded.
“CVS Health and Aetna have been one company since November 2018, and today’s action by the district court makes that 100% clear,” a CVS spokesman said in a statement. “We remain focused on transforming the consumer health care experience in America.”
The merger combines the nation’s third-largest health insurer with CVS’s large network of pharmacies and its pharmacy-benefit-management business.