Walgreens just keeps spreading its reach and becoming an even bigger player in the health care industry.
The drugstore chain announced plans Tuesday to acquire rival Rite Aid in a transaction valued at about $17.2 billion. Together, the two would spell about 13,000 stores across the U.S. and command a 46.5 percent share of the country’s pharmacy market, dwarfing rival CVS, The Wall Street Journal reports. CVS, too, has broadened its reach through acquiring its rivals, announcing plans in June to acquire Targets’ pharmacies and clinics in a $1.9 billion deal.
In a press release Tuesday, Walgreens officials said the acquisition furthers the drugstore’s push to provide affordable, accessible health care to consumers across the country.
“In both mature and newer markets across the world, our approach is to advance and broaden the delivery of retail health, well-being and beauty products and services," Walgreens Boots Alliance Executive Vice Chairman and CEO Stefano Pessina said in the release. "This combination will further strengthen our commitment to making quality health care accessible to more customers and patients.”
Walgreens has continued to take bites out of the health care biz, we reported earlier this year, forming partnerships with players across the industry. In a keynote speech at HIMMS15, Walgreen Co. President Alex Gourlay shared how the company had partnered with telehealth vendor MDLIVE to allow its customers to connect with a doctor any time of day via video in the store's mobile app. There, patients can engage a clinician and talk over a number of different acute conditions, and even get a prescription. Walgreens also announced in January that it was partnering with WebMD to launch a digital health-coaching platform, letting customers create their own health goals, make wellness action plans and use interactive programs to quit smoking or lose weight. And, of course, the Deerfield, Ill., company also has been partnering with health systems and physicians to help patients manage chronic conditions.
The deal, expected to close in the second half of 2016, likely will draw scrutiny from antitrust regulators, according to The Wall Street Journal.