Screenshot from the website

Louisville-based health care companies BrightSpring Health Services and PharMerica have agreed to merge, a move they say will result in better care for patients with complex health challenges, especially America’s growing elderly population.

The companies said in a news release that combined they will provide health and pharmacy services for 300,000 customers in 44 states.

Jon Rousseau

BrightSpring President and CEO Jon Rousseau said in the release that the merger would provide the new company “an unmatched platform and opportunity to drive improved patient outcomes and reduced costs through integrated care models — combining our community-based health services and pharmacy capabilities.”

Rousseau would lead the new company, while PharMerica President and CEO Greg Weishar would serve as a strategic advisor and on the board of directors.

Weishar said in the release that the transaction would provide “strategic and day-to-day benefits for the client and patient bases and valued customers of both organizations.

“With BrightSpring’s daily presence in care settings and PharMerica’s national pharmacy footprint, the combined business will offer existing and new customers expanded access to comprehensive care and pharmacy services, including augmented and clinically focused programs to best serve patients and meet our customers’ needs,” he said.

Greg Weishar

BrightSpring and PharMerica did not provide financial details of their proposed deal, which involves Toronto-based private equity firm Onex selling its BrightSpring stake. Global investment firm KKR, which bought PharMerica for $1.4 billion last year, would own the combined company.

BrightSpring and PharMerica could not be immediately reached to talk about financial details or the impact of the deal on the companies’ employees.

The companies said that they expect the deal, which has to clear regulatory hurdles including antitrust laws, to close in the first quarter of next year.

BrightSpring, formerly known as ResCare, supports therapy, vocational training and job placement services for people with disabilities and provides home care for the elderly. It generates about $2 billion in annual revenues, with about a quarter coming from the home care business and half from services for people with disabilities.

The company, which employs about 40,000, also has smaller business lines, including telecare, at-home rehabilitation and pharmacy services. Onex, bought the company in 2010.

PharMerica provides pharmacy management services for institutional health care providers including hospitals, people receiving in-home care and skilled nursing and assisted living facilities. The company operates 96 institutional pharmacies, 20 specialty home infusion pharmacies and five specialty oncology pharmacies in 45 states. It annually delivers 30 million prescriptions to nursing facilities.

After buying PharMerica in 2017, the publicly traded KKR took the company private. It employed about 6,000 last year.

The merger announcement comes at a time when health care companies increasingly are pooling their resources and capabilities to combat ballooning health care costs, especially for people with chronic conditions.

By 2025, national health care expenditures will exceed $5.5 billion, more than double the amount from 2010. And 164 million people are projected to have at least one chronic disease by 2025, up 16 percent from 2010. Three-quarters of people 64 and older already have at least one chronic disease.

Rising health care costs recently have prompted other industry marriages and attempts. Louisville-based health insurance giant Humana tried to merge with rival Aetna but was thwarted by federal antitrust regulators last year. Aetna has since merged with CVS Health.

Industry analysts repeatedly have speculated about Humana finding a new merger partner, from Walmart and Cigna to Walgreens.

Meanwhile, when Humana acquired a stake in Louisville-based Kindred Healthcare, CEO Bruce Broussard explained the deal by using similar language that Rousseau provided for BrightSpring’s planned merger with PharMerica: to better manage patients’ chronic diseases in their homes, which would improve their lives and the health care providers’ bottom line.

This post may be updated.

Boris Ladwig
Boris Ladwig is a reporter with more than 20 years of experience and has won awards from multiple journalism organizations in Indiana and Kentucky for feature series, news, First Amendment/community affairs, nondeadline news, criminal justice, business and investigative reporting. As part of The (Columbus, Indiana) Republic’s staff, he also won the Kent Cooper award, the top honor given by the Associated Press Managing Editors for the best overall news writing in the state. A graduate of Indiana State University, he is a soccer aficionado (Borussia Dortmund and 1. FC Köln), singer and travel enthusiast who has visited countries on five continents. He speaks fluent German, rudimentary French and bits of Spanish, Italian, Khmer and Mandarin.