Manufacturers and importers of about 600 new drugs and other medical technologies with a total cost of NIS 2 billion have applied for inclusion in the 2013 basket of health services – but the selection committee can recommend only NIS 300 million worth.

The public committee headed by Shaare Zedek Medical Center director-general Prof. Jonathan Halevy held its first meeting Thursday in Tel Aviv and must set priorities and make recommendations by the end of this year, after holding intensive deliberations.

Deputy Health Minister MK Ya’acov Litzman promised that the decisions would not be influenced by the Knesset elections, which will be held in January, and that he will not intervene in the committee’s decisions.

The basket is a collection of medications, devices and other technologies that the health funds subsidize for patients at the expense of the Treasury. The choices can have life-and-death consequences for patients and determine whether their quality of life is improved or not.

Health Ministry director-general Prof. Ronni Gamzu said he was happy that a three-year agreement allowed the addition of NIS 300m. to the basket each year since 2011. A new agreement will have to reached by the Treasury and the ministry next year.

Gamzu praised Halevy for his agreeing to serve voluntarily at the head of the public committee, noting that he had in the past headed national projects such as Israel Transplant. The Shaare Zedek director- general voiced his thanks for the appointment and said the citizenry should be proud of the health basket, which is better than that of most countries.

The majority of the other committee members are also new.

The various companies that applied to be in the basket have already begun to try to influence the committee members, by pressing health reporters to write about the products that are candidates for inclusion.

However, the committee said it is not influenced by any publicity on medical technologies.

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