Competing Stakeholders Disagree Over Future of AWP Benchmark and Viable Replacements, Drug Benefit News Reports

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The debate continues over whether or not AWP data will continue being published, and industry stakeholders weigh in on what could result if this drug pricing system is compromised.

Atlantic Information Services (AIS) - Stakeholders across the pharmacy benefits industry this summer are debating what should replace average wholesale price (AWP) data as a drug pricing benchmark. But even as two alternative pricing benchmarks gain support, some insiders say they'll continue to use AWP data, while others contend that no consensus will be reached -- and that none is needed.

In September 2011, two of the largest prescription drug pricing compendia will stop publishing AWP data as part of a massive legal settlement over the "tainted" benchmark, experts tell AIS's subscription newsletter Drug Benefit News. The search for an alternative could create major contract disruptions for payers, and some experts warn that without consensus around one benchmark that allows plan sponsors to compare bids from several PBMs, the result could be an increasingly fragmented pricing and payment system.

Many stakeholders are gravitating toward using wholesale acquisition cost (WAC) for reimbursement of brand drugs and maximum allowable cost (MAC) for multiple-source products. But publishers not involved in the settlement say they'll continue publishing AWP, raising the possibility that AWP and its successors will remain in use.

To read the full story in the June 25 issue of Drug Benefit News in which this article appears, go to

About Drug Benefit News

Published biweekly, Drug Benefit News features timely news and data on the business of pharmaceuticals, and practical cost management strategies from experts throughout the industry. It also includes data on high-cost drug categories and an inside look at what HMOs and PBMs are doing. For publication details, visit

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Jill Brown
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