Ofer offers to cover cancer drugs' cost for a month

Hopes government will find a long-term solution for funding Erbitux and Avastin.

sami ofer 88 (photo credit: )
sami ofer 88
(photo credit: )
Philanthropist and businessman Sami Ofer has volunteered to cover a month's worth of the drugs Erbitux and Avastin for colon cancer patients in the hope that the government will find a long-term solution for them. But the handful of patients who have been hunger striking for a week outside the Knesset are continuing to demonstrate. The two drugs, whose cost has been estimated at NIS 78 million to NIS 200m. a year, were not included in the expanded basket of health services or even among the top 467 drugs and other medical technologies rated by the public committee that recommends priorities. The Treasury allocated only NIS 310m. to expand the 2006 basket, which allowed the inclusion of only a few dozen technologies. One of the developers of Erbitux, Prof. John Mendelsohn, will today share the Dan David Prize at Tel Aviv University for his contributions to the Future Time Dimension. Health Minister Ya'acov Ben-Yizri said last Thursday that he would bring the colon cancer drugs to the cabinet for discussion, but it is not certain that it will be raised on Sunday, because topics have to be proposed several days in advance. After the meeting, he is flying to Geneva for World Health Organization meetings. Meanwhile, Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich said the state is responsible for its citizens' health and should not leave it to billionaires to cover the cost of drugs not included in the basket. "In the past, Ofer has canceled his offers when insulted," she said, calling on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the ministers of finance and health to take action that would add the drugs to the basket.