- CVS and the U.S. Department of Justice are seeking to block or limit expert witness testimony before a federal judge as part of the judge's review of the settlement agreement that cleared the way for the CVS-Aetna merger.
- The American Medical Association has called economics and health experts Richard Scheffler and Neeraj Sood and antitrust legal expert Tim Greaney as witnesses in the case. CVS and DOJ allege that the testimony is likely to be outside of the bounds of the limited review before District Court Judge Richard Leon.
- The AMA rebuts that its witnesses' testimony is relevant to the settlement agreement under review, according to its response filed Friday.
DOJ and CVS are concerned the witnesses are going to address the issue of anticompetitive harms resulting from the vertical merger between CVS and Aetna, which they argue is not up for review by Leon.
Leon is only supposed to look at the settlement agreement between DOJ, CVS and Aetna and weigh in on whether it's in the public's best interest.
Leon has been skeptical of CVS-Aetna deal struck with the DOJ in the past. He previously said the settlement addresses only "about one-tenth of 1%" of the mega-merger.
"Testimony from AMA witnesses in the evidentiary hearing will ensure a full airing of the arguments for and against CVS’s merger with Aetna," AMA said in a statement to Healthcare Dive.
In its filing with the court, the AMA explains that it is important to address how effects of the merger outside of the Medicare Part D market could result in CVS raising its rivals' costs, which would weaken their competitors' ability to compete within the Medicare Part D market.
DOJ originally alleged the nearly $70 billion combination would harm competition in only the Medicare Part D market in some locations across the U.S. To alleviate the government's antitrust concerns, CVS and Aetna settled with the DOJ by selling Aetna's Medicare Part D business. The sale allowed the merger to continue and the deal was closed in November.
Despite the deal's closure, it has not received final approval from Leon. The judge is tasked with reviewing the settlement under the Tunney Act, which gives courts the power to review DOJ decisions.
DOJ alleges that antitrust legal expert Greaney, a former assistant chief in DOJ's antitrust division, should not be allowed to testify. He was picked as a witness by the AMA, along with Scheffler and Sood, and DOJ is seeking to limit the scope of Sood and Scheffler's testimony.
The government is also seeking to block other proposed witnesses brought forward by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Consumer Action and U.S. PIRG, also alleging the testimony will be outside of the scope of the judge's review.