The decision by Anthem to launch its pharmacy benefit management company earlier than expected is only the latest of the insurer’s high-profile scrapes with Cigna, which now owns the Express Scripts PBM.
Anthem Wednesday gave notice to Cigna’s Express Scripts PBM that it will end its relationship March 1 of this year rather than Dec. 31 due to Cigna’s recent acquisition of Express Scripts. Though Anthem’s contract allowed for an early termination of the deal, Cigna’s Express Scripts executives described the move to end the contract early as “disappointing.”
“We know that Anthem cannot offer its clients and members the combination of value, predictability, and clinical expertise that Express Scripts represents,” Express Scripts’ Cigna unit said Wednesday. Cigna closed its acquisition of Express Scripts last month.
But Anthem CEO Gail Boudreaux says its IngenioRx PBM is ready to go with the help of CVS Health and the migration of business away from Express Scripts will begin March 2. “The accelerated implementation comes after significant preparation and testing,” Boudreaux said Wednesday during Anthem’s fourth quarter earnings call with analysts.
The questioning of the capabilities of Anthem’s new PBM by Cigna via its ownership of Express Scripts isn’t the first time there have been critical words between Anthem and Cigna in public. And it won’t be the last given an upcoming trial date where the two health insurance giants square off against each other.
The migration date of the PBM business will come less than a week after Cigna and Anthem are scheduled to begin their trial over a multi-billion-dollar breakup fee and various claims and counter claims.
Cigna has been seeking more than $13 billion in damages and a $1.85 billion breakup fee from Anthem for “harm” Cigna says the operator of Blue Cross and Blue Shield health plans in 14 states caused the insurer and its shareholders. The lawsuits arose two years ago after Anthem refused to pay a breakup fee to Cigna after its aborted merger with the nation’s second-largest health insurer.
The Anthem-Cigna merger became contentious, with Cigna wanting out of the deal and Anthem accusing Cigna executives of sabotage in an effort to derail the $48 billion merger. Anthem confirmed the trial is set to begin Feb. 25 in Delaware Court of Chancery and will include Cigna’s complaint as well as Anthem’s complaint against Cigna.
“We believe in the merits of our claims and dispute Anthem’s claims, and we intend to vigorously defend ourselves and pursue our claims,” Cigna said in a regulatory filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission Sept. 30 of last year. Cigna had no further comment about the litigation or coming trial.
Date: February 5, 2019