CVS is interested in acquiring Aetna for $200 per share, totaling about $66 billion.
The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times have reported that the decision is motivated by the prospect that corporate giant Amazon might move into the pharmaceutical industry.
Amazon already dominates the retail industry with its e-commerce website and has used acquisitions to expand into the media and grocery industries. It has been rumored that the company might break into the health care sphere.
CVS Health CEO Larry Merlo spoke to CNBC in August about possible competition from Amazon.
“They’ve done a great job, and you don’t take anything they’re doing for granted,” Merlo told CNBC. “But, at the same time, I think we have a lot of capabilities and a value proposition that can compete effectively in the market.”
The CVS deal, if it surpasses $60 billion at current share value, would make it one of the largest corporate acquisitions this year and one of the largest ever in the health industry, according to The New York Times.
Aetna attempted to buy its competitor Humana in 2016 but was blocked by the Department of Justice based on concerns that the merger would hurt competition in the market. Federal courts upheld the block by the DOJ earlier this year, forcing Aetna to pay a $1 billion breakup fee.
The future of health care in the U.S. remains uncertain as Congress debates whether to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Many of the ACA protections have already been rolled back by President Donald Trump, including birth control protections and federal subsidy payments. Among all the changes, however, the purchase of Aetna would allow CVS more leverage in negotiating with pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices.