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The National Oncology Council has recommended adding Viagra and other drugs prescribed for sexual dysfunction to government-subsidized services to cancer patients, Haaretz has learned.

The council, which advises the Health Ministry on cancer treatment, also recommends adding Levitra and Cialis to treat male impotency in cancer patients.

These drugs have also been recommended by the Israel Diabetes Association to treat diabetics.

Similar recommendations have been submitted to the committee in charge of the subsidized-services package by Dr. Juza Chen, Head of the Sexual Dysfunction Clinic at Tel Aviv's Sourasky Medical Center; Lena Kurtz, the Israel Cancer Association's sexuality consultant and Livia Kislev, the association's sexual health rehabilitation counseling nurse.

The Knesset will consider introducing drugs for sexual dysfunction into the subsidized-drugs package. This will be given mainly as part of the treatment for prostate cancer patients, who suffer erectile dysfunction as a by-product of prostate surgery.

Some 2,250 new prostate cancer patients are diagnosed in Israel annually and it is the third most common cancer in men worldwide. The health officials said the drugs would help men who suffer post-surgery erectile dysfunction and cannot receive penis injections or use a vacuum pump to improve their function.

The committee in charge of subsidized drugs began discussions on which new drugs to add to the package in 2010 a month ago. It is due to discuss the sexual dysfunction drugs over this month.

The overall cost of the new drugs exceeds NIS 1.5 billion, while the committee has only NIS 415 million to work with.

The committee is also examining using a computer program to pick out the new drugs. Developed in New Zealand, the program is used among other things to set priorities for surgery waiting lists.