A federal district court judge signed off on the $70 billion merger between CVS Corp. and Aetna on Wednesday after months of scrutinizing the U.S. Justice Department's antitrust settlement with the companies.
U.S. District Judge Richard Leon concluded in his opinion that "the proposed settlement is well 'within the reaches' of the public interest."
He further explained that despite critics' concerns that the merger would reduce competition, "CVS' and the government's witnesses, when combined with the existing record, persuasively support why the markets at issue are not only very competitive today, but are likely to remain so post-merger."
Judge Leon's probe into the CVS and Aetna's settlement with the Justice Department, which included Aetna's agreement to divest its stand-alone Medicare prescription drug business to WellCare Health Plans, was the final hurdle in the companies' merger process.
Despite the judge's review, CVS and Aetna had been operating as a single company since late last year.
In a joint statement, the two companies wrote they've been "one company since November 2018, and today's action by the district court makes that 100 percent clear."