Sept. 19 (UPI) -- Drugstore chain Walgreens received approval from U.S. regulators to purchase nearly 2,000 Rite Aid stores, the company said Tuesday.
The $4.375 billion deal will give Walgreens control of 1,932 Rite Aid stores across the United States. Walgreens originally attempted to buy the entire Rite Aid company, but U.S. antitrust regulators frowned on the deal, causing the drugstore giant to eventually abandon its plan and settle for 254 fewer stores.
The Rite Aid stores that were acquired are primarily in the northeast and southern United States and will eventually be rebranded as Walgreens stores, the company said.
"Combining Walgreens retail pharmacy network with a strong portfolio of Rite Aid locations is expected to help us achieve enhanced, sustainable growth while enabling us to broaden our reach and provide greater access to convenient, affordable care in more local neighborhoods across the United States," Walgreens CEO Stefano Pessina said in a press release.
But Federal Trade Commissioner Terrell McSweeny disagreed with the approval and said the acquisition could lead to higher drug prices for consumers.
"Today, there are just three national drugstore chains in the United States: CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid. Rite Aid is already the smallest of the three -- with roughly half the store count of CVS and Walgreens," she said in a statement. "This transaction would make Rite Aid's presence much more regional, leaving it with just over one-quarter the store count of either CVS or Walgreens. Rite Aid's footprint across much of the United States would be eliminated."