Walgreens selling pharmacy benefits management unit for $525 million

Deerfield, Ill. -- Walgreen Co. said Wednesday it is leaving the pharmacy benefits management business, selling its Walgreens Health Initiatives operation to Catalyst Health Solutions Inc. for $525 million in cash. The deal will leave Walgreens free to focus on its drug store network, which is the largest in the United States.

Walgreens’ pharmacy benefits management business has never approached the size of Caremark, the pharmacy benefits management business of CVS Caremark Corp.,

The deal more than doubles Catalyst's size, bringing its total membership to about 18 million members from 7 million. The Rockville, Md., company said it will handle about 165 million prescriptions a year after the deal is complete, compared to about 80 million previously.

Walgreens and Catalyst expect to complete the deal by the end of June pending regulators approval.