AETNA U.S. HEALTHCARE: Wins Pharmacy Antitrust Case
Aetna U.S. HealthCare did not violate antitrust laws "when it pressured a drugstore chain to hire its managed care consultants ... in return for keeping the chain on a list of approved prescription providers," a federal appeals court ruled yesterday, the Bloomberg News/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. In its ruling, the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals effectively threw out a $1.2 million penalty that a federal jury decided to award in 1996 to the I Got It At Gary's drugstore chain, which is now owned by Drug Emporium. The appeals court found that while the HMO used "economic leverage in an effort to force" the chain "to choose" its consultants, "there wasn't enough evidence to show" that Aetna U.S. HealthCare "impeded competition by doing so." In addition, the court ruled that the HMO's "hard-nosed stance on network access also didn't amount to extortion." The Bloomberg/Inquirer reports neither side could be reached for comment following the ruling (4/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.