Drugstore chain CVS Health and medical insurer Aetna shareholders have approved a merger between the two healthcare companies.

The deal received approval of nearly 97% of Aetna’s shareholders and 98% of CVS shareholders.

In December last year, CVS agreed to acquire Aetna for approximately $69bn in a cash and stock deal. The deal would combine CVS’ drugstores and pharmacy benefits manager platform with Aetna’s insurance business, blurring traditionally distinct lines in hopes of lowering costs.

For each Aetna share, its shareholders will receive $145 in cash and 0.8378 of a CVS Health share, which was valued at $207.94 in the aggregate based on the closing price of CVS Health stock on 1 December 2017, as per the terms of the agreement.

The overall cost of the transaction is expected to hit to $77bn with the assumption of Aetna’s debt.

CVS Health president and CEO Larry Merlo said: “When this merger is complete, the combined company will be well-positioned to reshape the consumer health care experience, putting people at the centre of health care delivery to ensure they have access to high-quality, more affordable care where they are, when they need it.

“The combination of CVS Health and Aetna brings together two complementary businesses with an expanded set of unique capabilities to create a new community-based open health care model that is easier to use and less expensive for consumers.

“We look forward to delivering more seamlessly coordinated care that ensures consumers have the essential resources to lead healthier lives for themselves and their families.”

CVS Health shareholders will own approximately 78% the stake in the combined company, while Aetna shareholders will own remaining 22% stake upon completion of the transaction in the second half of 2018.

The deal is still subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.