UnitedHealth Group’s Optum group is acquiring Diplomat Pharmacy in a $300 million deal.

Diplomat, a provider of specialty pharmacy and infusion services, had been struggling to compete with larger pharmacy benefits companies and saw its stock value drop 57% in 2019.

UnitedHealth Group will fold Diplomat into its OptumRx pharmacy-benefits unit, already one of the nation’s largest. Both companies confirmed the pending deal late last year.

Diplomat brings expertise in managing specialty medications that treat patients with complex diseases, such as oncology and immunology. It provides specialized infusion therapies with a vast presence in all 50 states.

UnitedHealth said in a release that the combination will “support improved health outcomes and reduced prescription drug costs,” although critics have routinely blamed large PBMs for soaring prices.

“This combination will expand the innovative specialty pharmacy and infusion solutions OptumRx can offer to the consumers and clients we serve, helping ensure people get the right medications and services at the right time, in the right setting,” said John Prince, chief executive officer of OptumRx.

The transaction was unanimously approved by Diplomat’s board of directors. 

Diplomat was founded in 1975 as a neighborhood pharmacy and entered the PBM market just two years ago, when it purchased LDI Integrated Pharmacy Services and National Pharmaceutical Services.

OptumRx manages the prescription drug benefits of commercial, Medicare, Medicaid and other government health plans through a national network of 67,000 community pharmacies.

Last year, according to Zacks Investment Research, Optum acquired behavioral health pharmacy Avella and Genoa Healthcare. The research firm also reported that Optum serves more than 56 million people and processes 1.3 billion scripts for about $96 billion in prescription spending annually.