Express Scripts Said Poised to Start 30-Day Clock for FTC Medco Decision

Express Scripts Inc. (ESRX) is poised to tell U.S. antitrust regulators it has delivered all the data requested regarding its purchase of Medco Health Solutions Inc. (MHS), a move that would trigger a 30-day period for a decision on the deal, two people familiar with the matter said.

Express Scripts is expected to certify to the Federal Trade Commission today that it’s finished providing the necessary information for the antitrust review, said the people, who declined to be identified because the matter isn’t public. Under antitrust law, the agency is required to act on a merger request within 30 days of the certification.

The agency’s options then include clearing the deal, suing to block it or negotiating a settlement. It could also agree with the company to extend the 30-day period. The company and the agency aren’t engaged in discussions about a settlement or extension, the people said. The FTC isn’t expected to decide on the deal until the beginning of March, one of the people said.

Brian Henry, a spokesman for Express Scripts speaking on behalf of both companies, declined to comment in an e-mail.

Express Scripts, based in St. Louis, agreed in July to buy Franklin Lakes, New Jersey-based Medco for $29.1 billion to create the biggest pharmacy benefits manager in the U.S. Pharmacy benefits managers act as middlemen among drugmakers, pharmacies and health-plan sponsors to negotiate prices and manage the use of drugs by patients.

The FTC is continuing its review of the transaction and hasn’t decided whether to block the deal, one of the people said.

Henry said on Feb. 7 the company is cooperating with the FTC as it reviews the deal and is “confident” the merger will be completed in the first half of this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sara Forden in Washington at sforden@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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