Panel Kicks Off Talks on Which New Drugs Israel Should Fund

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Credit: AP

Discussions began on Tuesday to determine which new medications and technologies will be added to Israel’s health-service basket in 2015. A public committee held the first meeting to choose which items to subsidize from among 600 requests totaling close to three billion shekels — ten times the amount the committee can allocate.

A new and expensive group of medications for treating Hepatitis C — medications that cost 60,000 to 80,000 dollars per patient — is expected to be one of the main topics of discussion.

The 18-member committee, led by Prof. Jonathan Halevy, director-general of Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, will submit its recommendations to the Health Ministry by the end of the year.

“The basic health-services basket in Israel is the richest compared with other countries in the world,” Halevy said during the session’s opening discussion. “I have no doubt that the public will receive the medications and technologies from which it can benefit the most.”

The 300 million shekel budget for new medications and technologies is to be added to the existing 34.6 billion shekel basket of health services.

In 2014, 83 new drugs and technologies intended for roughly 115,000 Israelis were added to the basket. New treatments for cancer reached a peak last year, comprising 41 percent of the additions to the basket, at a cost of 120 million shekels. In 2014, the committee also instituted a ground-breaking reform when it agreed to pay for abortions for women aged 20 to 32 regardless of the circumstances behind the decision to terminate the pregnancy.

“Our health-services basket in the State of Israel is one of the most advanced in the world,” said Health Minister Yael German during the opening discussion of the committee’s session. “As a state that strives for equality, it must fund lifesaving treatments, which do not belong in supplementary insurance policies,” said German, adding that she was glad that the budget for the basket had not been cut this year.

MK Yael German.Credit: Michal Fattal

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