NIS 300m. addition to 2011 health basket lowest in 5 years

Some new drug subsidies are ‘breakthroughs,’ says Litzman.

YA’ACOV LITZMAN (photo credit: (Ariel Jerozolimski)
(photo credit: (Ariel Jerozolimski)
Subsidized hearing aids for the elderly, helicopter evacuation of sick and injured to hospitals, preserving fertility in women about to undergo chemotherapy, special food to prevent complications in irritable bowel disease patients, rotavirus vaccine for preventing severe diarrhea in babies and a variety of medications were recommended on Wednesday for inclusion in the 2011 basket of health services.
The public committee that suggests priorities for new drugs and other medical technologies to be added to the basket presented its report to Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman at a Knesset event and press conference.
NIS 300 million – the lowest sum added to the basket provided by health funds to their members in five years – will be allocated for this purpose according to the committee’s priority list agreed upon at midnight on Tuesday. The list of technologies will go soon to the National Health Council and then the cabinet for approval, after which the health funds will make them available to relevant patients.
The members had a very difficult task, as around 430 technologies costing more than NIS 1 billion were presented, and only 30 percent of them could be approved. Last year, about 80 technologies were approved at a cost of NIS 350m.
Litzman said the committee, which was coordinated by Dr.
Osnat Luxenburg, did excellent work. Some of the additions were “real breakthroughs.”
He commented on media criticism that the addition to the basket was relatively small: “The Treasury intended to allow only NIS 200m. for new drugs, but we pressed them to expand it to NIS 300m.,” said the deputy minister, who noted that basic dental treatment for children up to the age of eight represented NIS 130m.
more in expenditures.
Committee chairman Prof.
Rafael Beyar, who is directorgeneral of Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center and has twice headed the committee, said the new subsidized medications include some for common disorders such as diabetes and heart disease, as well as one for an “orphan disease” affecting only three Israelis. Members were “not influenced” by a massive lobbying campaign by public relations companies representing drug firms and patients’ groups, he said.
Litzman urged journalists to ignore such campaigns and let the committee proceed with its work without outside interference.
He added that he hopes his ministry will be able to finance more dental hygiene education in schools to prevent cavities.
Ministry director-general Dr.
Ronni Gamzu said that too-few proposals for disease prevention and health promotion were received for inclusion in the basket and hoped that more would be proposed next year, as they have important long-term effects; last year’s coverage of smoking cessation courses and medications induced thousands of Israelis to kick the tobacco habit, he said.
Proposals to reduce and prevent obesity would be welcomed, Litzman said.
Gamzu used the occasion to urge the public – of all ages and conditions – to get vaccinated against the flu because of the increasing virulence of the virus this year and the low vaccination rates so far. Fourteen people, including young people with no chronic disease, are currently in hospital intensive care units for treatment of flu complications, he said.
So far, only 5% of children, 54% of the elderly and other high-risk people and 13% of the general population have gone to their health fund clinics for free shots.
Litzman said that no hospital beds and manpower slots have been added in a decade, but the ministry managed to persuade the Treasury to allocate funds for 160 beds – especially in emergency departments in the periphery of the country – over the next six years.
These are some of the medications and indications added to the basket: • Celsentri for AIDS patients whose virus is resistant to two other AIDS drugs.
• Vpriv for Gaucher’s disease.
• Velcade for multiple myeloma.
• Pradaxa for preventing stroke in certain heart patients.
• Firdapse for Lambert Eaton myasthenic syndrome.
• Mircera for treating anemia in patients with kidney failure.
• Novonorm and Repagilinide for certain diabetics.
• Zomera for cancer patients with metastasis in the bones.
• Special continuous sugar monitors for women trying to get pregnant and for children with Type 1 diabetes.
• Expanded rehabilitation for heart attack victims.
• Jevtana for metastatic prostate cancer patients.
• Actemra for adult rheumatoid arthritis after two other drugs have failed.
• Stelara for certain psoriasis patients.
The whole list will be published on the Health Ministry’s website at when it is approved by the cabinet.
Meanwhile, Kadima MK Dr.
Rachel Adatto – a frequent critic of Litzman (United Torah Judaism) and a former member of the basket committee – said funding to expanding the basket must not be used as a budget source for changing needs of the Health Ministry at the expense of patients who need new medical technologies.
This includes funding of helicopters for patient evacuation and vaccines, she said; vaccines used to be paid for by the ministry and not by the basket expansion.