Five ‘health basket committee’ members have conflicts of interest

Those members will have to excuse themselves from the panel

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November 29, 2016 00:59
1 minute read.
HEALTH MINISTER Ya’acov Litzman is flanked by Prof. Jonathan Halevy and Dr. Osnat Luxenburg at a mee

HEALTH MINISTER Ya’acov Litzman is flanked by Prof. Jonathan Halevy and Dr. Osnat Luxenburg at a meeting of the ‘health basket committee’ last month.. (photo credit: JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH)

Five out of 20 members of the 2017 “health basket committee” have professional and financial connections to drug companies whose new drugs are on a list for possible inclusion in next year’s basket of benefits, Channel 2 reported Sunday night.

As a result, those members will have to excuse themselves from the panel that recommends how to expand services provided by the health funds, when those companies’ products are discussed or voted upon.

However, the committee spokesman stated that the members – nominated by Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon – each signed a disclosure form.

Members include doctors, health-fund and public representatives, ethicists, a rabbi and others. As with every year, the signed form is sent to the Health Ministry’s legal department that, if necessary, instructs the committee how to act if a drug to which a member is connected is discussed.

The committee spokesman added two “public representatives” and three doctors this year to those receiving instructions on how to act, including removing themselves from discussing or voting on relevant candidate drugs.

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow of the Tzohar rabbinical organization, who has been a member of the health-basket committee more than once, said the committee “is one of the most significant bodies in the public service whose decisions have direct significance for life or death. Thus it is vital for it to be bound to preserve integrity and clear decisions. If, in fact, some of the members of the committee have vested conflicts of interests, it puts a heavy cloud on its decisions and the public faith that it needs to decide its critical decisions.”

Cherlow added that the drug companies “are not evil,” but their economic interests are not identical to public interests. “For the public status of the committee to avoid being harmed, it must spotless in the field of relationships with pharmaceutical companies.”


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