Health Ministry reduces maximum drug prices

6.7 percent cut expected in price of prescription medications whose maximum price is NIS 100.

drugs 88 (photo credit: )
drugs 88
(photo credit: )
The Health Ministry cut the maximum prices of prescription medications whose maximum price is NIS 100 by 6.7 percent on Monday, due to changes in the exchange rate. Ruth Ralbag, the supervisor of ministry pricing, said that the change would take effect on March 1. Last year, prescription medicine prices dropped by 13% because of changes in the "pricing model" used by the ministry. Ministry associate director-general Dr. Boaz Lev explained that the ministry sets "maximum prices" that can be charged by pharmacies and health fund. Although the price set by the ministry is not the actual price for drugs supplied to the customer, the reduction will affect what the public pays in pharmacies, he said. Some health funds charge a set fee as copayment for drugs, while others charge a percentage of the drug's actual cost. Lev said the 6.7% reduction will affect those whose copayments are set as a percentage, but he couldn't say whether it would affect the fixed charges for drugs. The reduction is applicable both for drugs that are in the basket of health services supplied by the health funds and those drugs that are not subsidized by the insurers but can be purchased elsewhere. Meanwhile, the Physicians for Human Rights-Israel organization welcomed the drug price cut, but noted that many low-income residents, elderly and patients with chronic diseases cannot afford to get prescription drugs that are subsidized because the copayments are beyond their means. A chronically ill patient's copayment is limited to a ceiling of NIS 225 monthly for medications, so the reduced prices will not affect them. The organization demanded that all copayments of medications in the basket be cancelled along with copayments for medical treatments and tests that are in the basket.