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Cigna reaches $52 billion deal to buy Express Scripts

Sign outside of Cigna headquarters.
The health insurance deal went public Thursday morning. Photo: James Leynse / Corbis via Getty Images

Health insurer Cigna has agreed to buy pharmacy benefit giant Express Scripts for $52 billion in cash and stock. Including debt, the deal is valued at $67 billion. The Wall Street Journal first reported about the deal Wednesday night.

The big picture: The health care industry continues to consolidate at a breakneck pace. CVS Health and Aetna are attempting to combine in a similar tie-up of health insurance and pharmacy benefit management. Numerous hospital systems and other health care companies also are rushing to merge in what has become an all-out turf war.

Driving the news: Anthem split ways with Express Scripts after Anthem said Express Scripts pocketed "obscene" profits from their prescription drug contract.

  • Because Express Scripts lost a highly profitable drug plan client, which drove a lot of negativity on Wall Street, Express Scripts became a takeover target.
  • We previously reported that Cigna had a lot of cash to spend and made it clear it would be on the prowl for some kind of deal after its merger with Anthem flopped. But it appears Medicare rival Humana is not on the table for now.
  • Health insurers and pharmacy benefit managers have been aligning more, like CVS and Aetna, in an attempt to save costs on drugs.
  • Yes, but: What's old is new again.
Lauren Meier 1 hour ago
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Facebook's growing problems

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios 

Facebook is caught in the middle of a rapidly unfolding scandal over Cambridge Analytica's improper gathering of data on millions of users, and what that exposed about the company's data collection. The fiasco has drawn the interest of lawmakers and regulators and rekindled the debate over its role in the 2016 presidential election.

Why it matters: The bad headlines continued to pile up; "A hurricane flattens Facebook" said Wired, "Silicon Valley insiders think that Facebook will never be the same" per Vanity Fair, "Facebook is facing its biggest test ever — and its lack of leadership could sink the company" from CNBC, and — as we've yet to hear from the company's top leaders — "Where is Mark Zuckerberg?" asks Recode.

Dave Lawler 8 hours ago
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What Trump and Putin did and didn't discuss

President Trump spoke with Vladimir Putin this afternoon, and congratulated him on winning re-election on Sunday. After the call, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked whether Trump felt the election had been free and fair, and said it wasn’t up to the U.S. to “dictate" how Russia holds elections.

The bottom line: Trump is not alone in congratulating Putin — leaders in France, Germany and elsewhere have done so this week, as Barack Obama did in 2012. But past administrations certainly have seen it as America’s role to call balls and strikes when it comes to elections abroad, and weigh in when democratic institutions are being undermined. A departure from that approach would be welcomed not only by Putin, but other leaders of pseudo democracies around the world.