Subsidized hearing aids for the elderly, helicopter evacuation of sick and
injured to hospitals, preserving fertility in women about to undergo
chemotherapy, special food to prevent complications in irritable bowel disease
patients, rotavirus vaccine for preventing severe diarrhea in babies and a
variety of medications were recommended on Wednesday for inclusion in the 2011
basket of health services.
The public committee that suggests priorities
for new drugs and other medical technologies to be added to the basket presented
its report to Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman at a Knesset event and
NIS 300 million – the lowest sum added to the basket
provided by health funds to their members in five years – will be allocated for
this purpose according to the committee’s priority list agreed upon at midnight
on Tuesday. The list of technologies will go soon to the National Health Council
and then the cabinet for approval, after which the health funds will make them
available to relevant patients.
The members had a very difficult task, as
around 430 technologies costing more than NIS 1 billion were presented, and only
30 percent of them could be approved. Last year, about 80 technologies were
approved at a cost of NIS 350m.
Litzman said the committee, which was
coordinated by Dr.
Osnat Luxenburg, did excellent work. Some of the
additions were “real breakthroughs.”
He commented on media criticism that
the addition to the basket was relatively small: “The Treasury intended to allow
only NIS 200m. for new drugs, but we pressed them to expand it to NIS 300m.,”
said the deputy minister, who noted that basic dental treatment for children up
to the age of eight represented NIS 130m.
Committee chairman Prof.
Rafael Beyar, who is
directorgeneral of Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center and has twice headed the
committee, said the new subsidized medications include some for common disorders
such as diabetes and heart disease, as well as one for an “orphan disease”
affecting only three Israelis. Members were “not influenced” by a massive
lobbying campaign by public relations companies representing drug firms and
patients’ groups, he said.
Litzman urged journalists to ignore such
campaigns and let the committee proceed with its work without outside
He added that he hopes his ministry will be able to finance
more dental hygiene education in schools to prevent cavities.
Ronni Gamzu said that too-few proposals for disease
prevention and health promotion were received for inclusion in the basket and
hoped that more would be proposed next year, as they have important long-term
effects; last year’s coverage of smoking cessation courses and medications
induced thousands of Israelis to kick the tobacco habit, he
Proposals to reduce and prevent obesity would be welcomed, Litzman
Gamzu used the occasion to urge the public – of all ages and
conditions – to get vaccinated against the flu because of the increasing
virulence of the virus this year and the low vaccination rates so far. Fourteen
people, including young people with no chronic disease, are currently in
hospital intensive care units for treatment of flu complications, he
So far, only 5% of children, 54% of the elderly and other high-risk
people and 13% of the general population have gone to their health fund clinics
for free shots.
Litzman said that no hospital beds and manpower slots
have been added in a decade, but the ministry managed to persuade the Treasury
to allocate funds for 160 beds – especially in emergency departments in the
periphery of the country – over the next six years.
These are some of the
medications and indications added to the basket: • Celsentri for AIDS patients
whose virus is resistant to two other AIDS drugs.
• Vpriv for Gaucher’s
• Velcade for multiple myeloma.
• Pradaxa for preventing
stroke in certain heart patients.
• Firdapse for Lambert Eaton myasthenic
• Mircera for treating anemia in patients with kidney
• Novonorm and Repagilinide for certain diabetics.
Zomera for cancer patients with metastasis in the bones.
continuous sugar monitors for women trying to get pregnant and for children with
Type 1 diabetes.
• Expanded rehabilitation for heart attack
• Jevtana for metastatic prostate cancer patients.
Actemra for adult rheumatoid arthritis after two other drugs have
• Stelara for certain psoriasis patients.
The whole list
will be published on the Health Ministry’s website at www.health.gov.il when it
is approved by the cabinet.
Meanwhile, Kadima MK Dr.
– a frequent critic of Litzman (United Torah Judaism) and a former member of the
basket committee – said funding to expanding the basket must not be used as a
budget source for changing needs of the Health Ministry at the expense of
patients who need new medical technologies.
This includes funding of
helicopters for patient evacuation and vaccines, she said; vaccines used to be
paid for by the ministry and not by the basket expansion.