Israeli Panel Begins Marathon Talks Over Drugs, Devices to Be Included in Health Coverage

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Pills at a pharmacy.Credit: Reuters

The committee that decides which medical technologies and drugs will be added to those covered by the state in 2015 is to begin marathon discussions on Sunday to finalize the list.

The committee, chaired by the director of Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Prof. Jonathan Halevy, has been deliberating for the past three months over more than 600 medications and technologies, which, if they were all included in what is known as the “health basket,” would cost more than 3 billion shekels ($769 million.)However, the budget for expanding the basket is only 300 million shekels.

Among the technologies under consideration by the 18-member committee are some whose efficacy has been clearly proven by research, but their cost exceeds available funding.

One new and costly group of drugs is for treatment of Hepatitis C – six drugs manufactured by four different companies would be brought into the basket as a single group. A combination of these drugs can eradicate the illness in 85 percent of cases. TIt is believed the committee will approve government funding for the drugs – depending on the extent the disease has scarred the liver.

The committee is also considering a number of new drugs to treat diabetes and expanding the number of existing drugs in the basket. This year drugs that are less damaging to the kidneys have been given high priority, including long-acting insulin.

The committee will also be considering government funding for free dental treatments for children 12-14 years old, an expansion of the program launched by former deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, at a cost of 30 million shekels.

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