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Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

When CVS agreed to acquire insurer Aetna last fall for $66 billion, some wondered about how the deal would impact CVS customers who have different insurance. Would they have to pay higher prices, be denied service, etc? Worst-case scenario sorts of stuff, but clearly matters that government regulators would examine.

Now there is a lawsuit in Florida that, were its allegations borne out, could give those regulators something to dig into.

The plaintiff is Sentry Data Systems, owned by private equity firm ABRY Partners, which is largely focused on facilitating a federal program (340B) that requires drugmakers participating in Medicaid to provide discounts on certain outpatient medicines. In short, it's a middle-man between the manufacturers and distribution locations like CVS pharmacies.

The claims

Sentry alleges that after CVS bought rival 340B company Wellpartner last summer, it told many Sentry customers that Wellpartner would become "the exclusive 340B program administrator for all CVS Health retail and specialty pharmacies."

  • Not only does Sentry believe some of its trade secrets were misappropriated by CVS, but also that the exclusivity move is anti-competitive — given how large CVS is within the 340B space. In some markets, for example CVS is the only option for such patients.
  • Key here is how CVS is allegedly tying two separate activities together (i.e, 340B administration and retail drug sales).
  • This is a relatively small case (albeit huge for Sentry), but discovery could provide some clues into what would come post CVS/Aetna.

A CVS spokesman tells Axios the suit is "without merit," adding:

"Despite Sentry being the nation’s largest administrator of 340B plans, it appears threatened by new competition and is trying to use unfounded antitrust allegations to stall the growth of a small competitor, Wellpartner."

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day — U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record.
  2. Politics: States beg for Warp Speed billions.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.

Technical glitch in Facebook's ad tools creates political firestorm

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: SOPA Images / Contributor

Facebook said late Thursday that a mix of "technical problems" and confusion among advertisers around its new political ad ban rules caused issues affecting ad campaigns of both parties.

Why it matters: A report out Thursday morning suggested the ad tools were causing campaign ads, even those that adhered to Facebook's new rules, to be paused. Very quickly, political campaigners began asserting the tech giant was enforcing policies in a way that was biased against their campaigns.

7 hours ago - Health

States beg for Warp Speed billions

A COVID-19 drive-thru testing center yesterday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Photo: David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP

Operation Warp Speed has an Achilles' heel: States need billions to distribute vaccines — and many say they don't have the cash.

Why it matters: The first emergency use authorization could come as soon as next month, but vaccines require funding for workers, shipping and handling, and for reserving spaces for vaccination sites.