The National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) said it would review pursuing damage claims against pharmaceutical firms that sold carcinogen-containing valsartan drugs to hypertension patients.
The Korean government had earlier banned the sales and the insurance coverage of 173 valsartan medicines contaminated with N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a possible carcinogen.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare presented the “Current Status of Valsartan Recall and Future Plans,” at the meeting of the Health Insurance Policy Review Committee on Thursday.
According to the ministry, the NHIS will calculate the amount of additional financial expenditure incurred due to the re-prescriptions and dispensing of problematic medicines and review a plan to seek indemnity rights or compensations for damages.
As of Sept. 3, 178,536 Korean patients took hypertension treatments based on valsartan manufactured by Chinese firm Zhejiang Huahai. Among them, 95.8 percent had the same drug through the same prescription and dispensing.
An additional 181,286 patients took now-banned Daebong LS’ valsartan, and 88.4 percent of them received the same medicine through a renewal of prescription and dispensing. Among 15,296 patients who switched the medication from Huahai’s valsartan to that Daebong LS, 88.7 percent changed it to another hypertension therapy.
A total of 4,048 patients took Myungmoon Pharm’s valsartan, which was the last to be recalled. Among them, 70.5 percent had the same medication through the same prescription and dispensing. Among 333 patients who switched the drug from Huahai’s to Myungmoon’s, 212 received another hypertension drug.
Four patients changed the medication from Huahai’s to Daebong LS’ to Myungmoon’s. All of them are now using other medicines.
The NHIS exempted the patient’s drug cost if the patient changed the risky drug to another one by revisiting a hospital or a pharmacy that had the prescription or dispensing records.
If a patient’s new medicine is more expensive than the recalled hypertension drug, the government will pay losses made at hospitals and pharmacies incurred from the price differences, the health and welfare ministry said.