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Earlier this month, Health Minister Yaakov Ben-Yizri gave TLC, a company dedicated to offering inexpensive medication to Israelis, his public support. The minister?s move proved to be of great benefit to the firm.

The Health Ministry also extended its official support of the initiative and issued an official announcement to the press on TLC.

The media exposure resulted in an immediate upsurge in TLC's business - as many as 7,500 new requests, as reported to Haaretz.

However, it is not entirely clear why the Health Ministry chose to back TLC.

Another firm, Talpharma, also supplies medicines that are not included in the state health-care basket, and the company offers them at significantly lower prices than those appearing in the official ministry price list.

Both are commercial companies that pay their employees and presumably are also intersted in turning a profit.

In response to a Haaretz inquiry on the reasons for which the ministry chose to give official public exposure to one firm and not another, the ministry issued a statement, saying:

"The health minister and the employees of the ministry welcome all initiatives that assist the patients and lower the costs of medicines that are not in the medical basket. Any firm that turns to the ministry will receive the same professional support."

Hezi Sinaim, deputy CEO of Talpharma, says that the "sale of low-cost medicines is a business" and adds that "the sales turnover of the company is hundreds of millions of shekels, in spite the savings for patients."