New Cancer Meds to Fill Half of Israel’s Subsidized Drug Basket for 2017

The additions also include drugs for lung disease, heart disease, vascular disease, diabetes and neurological diseases.

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More than 20 cancer drugs are being added to the basket.Credit: AP

More than 80 new drugs and technologies – at a cost of 470 million shekels ($122 million) – will be added to Israel’s “health basket” of subsidized treatments this year, including 230 million shekels ($60 million) for cancer treatments.

The new oncology drugs will be used to treat around 3,000 patients at advanced stages of cancer. More than 20 oncology drugs are being added to the basket; the 230 million shekels is both the largest sum and largest percentage ever for cancer drugs.

After two months of discussions, the health-basket committee is announcing its 2017 additions Tuesday evening.

The additions also include drugs for lung disease, heart disease, vascular disease, diabetes and neurological diseases. There is also funding for genetic tests for various syndromes, rehab equipment, hearing aids and drugs to treat certain rare diseases.

The government is expected to approve the basket in the coming days, making the treatments available on February 9.

Among the oncology drugs are new treatments for lung cancer, one of the most lethal cancers, for which chemotherapy is often used. But based on new clinical findings, there will now be immunotherapy drugs – including as a first-line treatment for lung cancer.

These new drugs, at a cost of 58 million shekels, include Keytruda and Opdivo as a first- and second-line treatment for non-small cell lung cancer. The annual cost per patient is 190,000 shekels.

The hope is that these medicines will have the same effect against lung cancer as they have had against melanoma. Keytruda has also been approved for metastatic or recurrent small-cell carcinoma in the neck or head. It is intended for around 80 patients.

Another significant share of oncology drugs is for multiple myeloma – cancer of the bone marrow – at a cost of 65 million shekels for four drugs: Empliciti, Ninlaro, Kyprolis and Darzalex. The annual cost is 299,000 shekels to 365,000 shekels per patient, intended for around 200 patients.

Other key drugs on the list are Avastin for metastatic cervical cancer, Lynparza for ovarian cancer and Larturvo for sarcoma. The latter, at an annual cost per patient of 273,000 shekels, will become a first-line treatment for 125 patients at a cost of 34 million shekels. The treatment was unanimously approved in the absence of effective alternatives.

Also approved were new treatments for advanced or inoperable melanoma: Cotellic, Mekinist and Opdivo.

Meanwhile, the hematology-oncology treatments will be boosted by drugs for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, chronic lymphoblastic leukemia, chronic myelogenous leukemia and lymphoma, at an annual cost per patient of 223,000 shekels to 323,000 shekels.

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