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CVS Said Set to Brief Senate Subcommittee on Merger

Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) -- CVS Caremark Corp. has been called to provide a confidential briefing to a Senate antitrust subcommittee relating to its 2007 acquisition of Caremark Inc., according to two people familiar with the situation.

CVS Caremark will appear before staff members of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee for Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights on Oct. 1, one of the people said. Both people requested anonymity because they weren’t permitted to speak on the record.

The purpose of the meeting is to investigate complaints from consumers concerning business practices since the CVS-Caremark merger, according to the people. More than 24 states are also investigating the company, and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission began a probe into CVS Caremark last year.

Carolyn Castel, spokeswoman for Woonsocket, Rhode Island-based CVS Caremark, said the company is confident that its business practices and service offerings are in compliance with antitrust laws.

“During the course of the FTC investigation, company representatives have periodically met with members of Congress and their staff regarding unfounded allegations,” Castel said in an e-mail.

Separately, CVS Caremark was sent a letter by Senator Herb Kohl, a Wisconsin Democrat and head of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, requesting information. The group said it’s seeking data on CVS Caremark’s Maintenance Choice program and how much seniors have to pay for prescription drugs after some consumers complained they were being charged too much.

Maintenance Choice customers get discounts if they buy certain drugs through CVS retail stores or through the Caremark mail-order pharmacy. While CVS Caremark plans to work with the committee to provide information, Medicare Part D members don’t participate in Maintenance Choice, Castel said.

CVS fell 16 cents to $31.29 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have declined 2.9 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Carol Wolf in Washington at cwolf@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Robin Ajello at rajello@bloomberg.net.

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