Health basket to be expanded by NIS 300 million

Hepatitis C treatment, PET scans for prostate cancer, herpes vaccine among 83 new additions

Doctor with sample (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Doctor with sample
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
The expansion of treatment for hepatitis C, a drug that would prevent pregnancy in raped women up to five days afterwards, better medications for chronic pulmonary and kidney diseases, PET scans for screening patients at risk for prostate cancer, and herpes zoster vaccine for adults over 50 are among the medical technologies to be added to the 2016 basket of health services.
The public committee for recommending a NIS 300 million expansion of the basket, headed by Prof. Rafael Beyar, announced Thursday its list of 83 new drugs and other technologies out of some 700 candidates worth a total of NIS 2.5m. The volunteer committee presented the list to Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, who will bring it to the cabinet on Sunday. After being approved there, it will automatically be okayed by the Israel Health Council, after which the four health funds will be required to supply the medical technologies to patients.
The NIS 300m. figure has been constant for some six years, even though the cost of new-generation drugs are much more expensive than previously. The sum is set by the Treasury, which has long opposed automatic annual updating by some two percent so that power remains in its hands, said Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, one of the leaders of the Tzohar rabbinical organization.
Cherlow told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that “there are three new kinds of medications – biological, genetic and nanotechnological. These are different types completely, and the prices are much higher than conventional drugs that were priced according to development costs. For the new medications, production costs are very high, and their costs will not drop very much.”
Cherlow added that if the basket were expanded by 2% annually, it would help, but “I don’t think the Finance Ministry will give in to automatic updating. Including all of the new-generation medications could require as much as a 7% hike. We have to understand that there are limits, and we must discuss where the line is,” he said.
The rabbi said that the basket committee, of which he previously was a member, “does an excellent job.
I can’t find any fault with it.
Most of the lifesaving drugs are included, but we need a broader public discussion on what we can and can’t do and think how to provide more new drugs to more patients.
There should be an appeals committee – not of the health funds but of the state itself – to decide on exceptions. And we must reach agreements with drug companies on supplying some drugs at lower prices.”
Additions to the Israeli basket are limited by the amount of money the Treasury allocates every year for this purpose, he noted. The British system adds medical technologies according to what new drugs are effective. But the British won’t be able to continue doing this, because they won’t be able to afford so many new and expensive technologies,” Cherlow insisted.
Among the other technologies added to the basket are orthodontic surgery for patients who suffer severe functional problems; screening for progressive cerebello cerebral atrophy among Jews of Moroccan origin who have a high risk of being carriers; Esbiet and Ofev for treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; inhalation equipment for primary ciliary dyskinesia; and Velphoro for chronic kidney disease patients undergoing dialysis.
After final approval, the whole list will be publicized on the Health Ministry’s website at