What We're Reading: Heart Drug Recall; Precision Medicine Cost; Filling Prescriptions in Mexico

An angiotensin II receptor blocker that is used to treat high blood pressure has been recalled due to a contamination that carries a potential cancer risk; with insurance companies considering precision medicine experimental, the high cost of a promising area of medicine may be out of reach for patients; instead of using a local pharmacy, employees of the state of Utah could be paid to go to Mexico to fill their prescriptions.

FDA Recalls Blood Pressure Drug Irbesartan

An angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB) that is used to treat high blood pressure, irbesartan, has been recalled due to a contamination. According to CNN, FDA is alerting patients that the contamination carries a potential cancer risk. The recall comes after another heart medicine, valsartan, was recalled for the same reason. The drugs have been found to be tainted with a possible carcinogen that is used to make liquid rocket fuel and can be unintentionally introduced into manufacturing. All ARBs are being tested for the contamination.

High Cost of Precision Medicine Out of Reach for Many Patients

Although precision medicine has shown great promise in helping patients, insurance companies view it as experimental and will cover little of the cost of care. However, precision medicine involves running expensive genomic sequencing tests, which puts this new and promising area of cancer research out of reach for many patients, reported Kaiser Health News. While Medicare will pay for genomic testing for people with advanced cancers, few private insurers cover the tests, which leaves patients footing bills worth several thousands of dollars.

Utah State Employees May Get Paid to Get Prescriptions From Mexico

Instead of using a local pharmacy, employees of the state of Utah could be paid to go to Mexico to fill their prescriptions. The Center for Biosimilars®, a sister site of The American Journal of Managed Care®, reported that the organization that provides health benefits to the state’s workers will allow members to fill 90-day supplies of certain drugs in Mexico. The payer will arrange for and cover roundtrip airfare to San Diego, California, pay for car transportation to across the border to a facility in Tijuana, Mexico, and also pay patients a reward of $500. According to a state representative, by paying a few hundred dollars for the medical tourism program, the state could save tens of thousands of dollars.