Dec 10, 2019

UnitedHealth Group's OptumRx is buying Diplomat Pharmacy for $300 million

 Illustration of money flying out of a pharmacist’s pocket

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

UnitedHealth Group's OptumRx division is buying Diplomat Pharmacy for $300 million, roughly a month after Diplomat said it was running out of money and was exploring a sale.

Why it matters: Health insurance companies have tightened their oligopoly hold on specialty pharmacies.

  • UnitedHealth and the other big insurers, which own these pharmacies that sell high-cost drugs for complex diseases, helped create Diplomat's financial problems by routing prescriptions to themselves over Diplomat. 
  • Now, Diplomat is selling itself to the giant that squeezed it, at a discount, and specialty pharmacy competition goes down. Diplomat's pharmacy benefit manager also gets absorbed by UnitedHealth.

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