An agreement between the Health and Finance ministries, together with a reduction in prescription medicine prices, will mean a boon to patients in the coming year, Health Ministry officials said on Sunday. In addition to the NIS 410 million increase in the basket of drug and medical technologies previously agreed upon for 2009, the Treasury will add NIS 5m. starting in January and an equal sum in 2010. These increases will be permanent, and not one-time, additions to the basket, said Health Ministry director-general Prof. Avi Yisraeli, who held a briefing for health reporters in his Jerusalem office. A public committee, headed by Prof. Menachem Fainaru (a former dean of Tel Aviv University's Sackler Medical Faculty), is preparing a list of recommended new drugs and technologies for the 2009 basket, and is due to present the list to the ministry in about two weeks. After this, said Yisraeli, it would be clear how many more drugs could be added, given the NIS 5m. addition and the decline in prices compared to those in Europe. Because prices in Europe were going down, said Yisraeli, "we will be able to have more subsidized medications for a wider number of illnesses and indications." In the past year, the strong shekel and decline in the euro meant a reduction of NIS 30m. in co-payments for medications. This represents a 27 percent drop in drug prices, enabling consumers to get additional subsidized medications and other technologies for the same shekel value.