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Express Scripts buys Medicare prescription plan

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts said Monday that it has bought SmartD Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, gaining about 87,000 patients.

It did not disclose terms of the deal.

Express Scripts Inc. is the largest U.S. pharmacy benefits manager, handling about 400 million prescriptions in the second quarter. It runs prescription drug plans for employers, insurers and other customers. Express Scripts and other PBMs process mail-order prescriptions and handle bills for prescriptions filled at retail pharmacies.

Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people who are 65 and older or who have certain disabilities. It offers hospital and medical insurance and prescription drug coverage.

SmartD is not currently accepting enrollments because of sanctions imposed by a federal agency, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Express Scripts said it plans to address all of SmartD's compliance issues. SmartD's plan will remain separate from Express Scripts' Medicare prescription drug plan until those problems are resolved.

CMS barred SmartD from marketing and enrollment activities in April.

Shares of St. Louis-based Express Scripts lost 76 cents to $64.76 in afternoon trading.