By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
In a move aimed at improving transparency, a list of drug and medical technology companies that donated money or goods to medical institutions is being released by the Health Ministry on Monday morning.
Although the Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee has held back permission for the ministry to publish how much money or goods were donated and for what purpose, ministry deputy director-general Dr. Yoel Lipschitz told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that he hopes this will change in the future, so that these dealings with be transparent.
"We are not against donations," said Lipschitz, who is in charge of the ministry's health management organizations and supplementary insurance programs regulator division.
"But the public has a right to know who donates, how much and for what purpose. Many US states and other countries have laws requiring transparent reporting of such donations, and we want it, too."
The Knesset committee was nervous last year about full disclosure of connections between foreign and local pharmaceutical companies and hospitals, as the recipients - as well as the Israel Medical Association - were fearful that it might harm research, he said.
But Lipschitz added that this is not a realistic concern.
"This is big money, as each year, some $500 million is donated to medical institutions by drug companies," he said.
"It is absurd that we may issue a report just listing the names of donor and recipient institutions, and not how much was donated and for what the funds were used," he continued. "But we believe it will help push towards full disclosure."
Lipschitz himself has no clue whether the amount of donations is rising and for what the money has been used.
"We are not doing this because we suspect criminal activity," he declared.
The report, or actually a list of companies and hospitals, will be put up on the ministry's Web site in Hebrew at www.health.gov.il.
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