Maximum prices for prescription medications fell on December 2 by an average of three percent, the Health Ministry announced on Monday.

The contributing factors were changes in exchange rates and their declines in drug prices in certain countries. The trend was kept despite the increase in Israel’s value-added tax this year.

In the past three years, medication prices have declined by a total of 24%. Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman welcomed the decline and said that supervision and setting maximum drug prices were very important, as they constituted a basis for calculation of copayments and protected the public, who need prescription medicines. He added there was still room for more reductions in drug price.

The ministry said it has issued new regulations on the size of drug packages to prevent pharmaceutical companies from reducing the amount of pills inside, which increases the cost of medications for consumers.

Meanwhile, a survey conducted by the polling company Market Watch last week has found that only half of Israelis take all the medications prescribed by their doctor. The survey, conducted among more than 500 respondents aged 18 and over from across the country, was taken for this week’s Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School conference marking the 60th anniversary of the first graduating class.

The survey also found that 70% of respondents seek out preliminary information about their illness before seeing their doctor; and 40% of respondents (especially among people over 45) cited doctors’ level of expertise as the main factor affecting their decision about which doctor to see. Twenty percent of respondents cited doctors’ level of availability as the main factor affecting which doctor they see, while 20% cited geographic proximity as the most important factor.

Sixty percent of respondents carry out all the tests prescribed by their doctor, while 4% do not undergo any of the tests.

Five percent of patients don’t take any of the prescribed drugs, and 82% of respondents are not afraid to go to the doctor.

“Our survey indicates that in the 21st century, an era of rapid communication and easily available information, the medical profession is even more challenging,” said Prof.

Eran Leitersdorf, dean of the Hebrew University Faculty of Medicine.

“The school bears a heavy responsibility regarding training physicians of the future while implementing the vast knowledge accumulated in accordance with the objectives of the State of Israel in the fields of medicine and biomedical science.”

Prof. Benjamin Drenger, head of the alumni group at the medical school, said “the fact that only 50% of the population take all their prescribed drugs is alarming and is due in part to the fact that people cannot afford the drugs they need.”

“The state must act to increase the national health expenditure so that people can get the medical treatment they need and fulfill this basic right,” he said.

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