Treatments for COVID-risk patients at center of health basket discussions

Both heart and lung treatments are facing considerations for entry into the 2021 health basket, with patients considered at risk for the coronavirus.

the basket of health services (photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
the basket of health services
(photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
Treatments for patients at risk of contracting the novel coronavirus are being pushed to the center of discussions concerning the 2021 health basket, with heart and lung treatments facing considerations for entry into the basket, according to Israel Hayom.
Israel’s health basket includes a range of subsidized medical services, drugs, equipment and devices for permanent residents of the State of Israel.
A foundation for those suffering from cardiac amyloidosis has called for a new and expensive drug called Vyndamax, generically known as Tafamidis, to be added to the 2021 health basket. Those suffering from cardiac amyloidosis are at higher risk for contracting and dying from COVID-19, and Vyndamax is currently the only treatment available for cardiac amyloidosis.
Vyndamax causes a significant improvement in heart function and life expectancy for cardiac amyloidosis patients.
Cardiac amyloidosis is "a rare disease that causes damage to the heart muscle and leads to severe heart failure and even death. The average life expectancy of its patients is only about 3.5 years from the time the disease is diagnosed," the heads of the foundation told Israel Hayom. "Until now there was no treatment for these patients – until a year ago when a first and only drug of its kind was approved for the treatment of the disease, without which the patients would die."
The Israel Cardiology Association stated that, in the first two years, Vyndamax is intended for 230 patients, at a cost of NIS 47 million (NIS 204,000 per patient per year), according to Israel Hayom. The price may decrease if the Health Ministry and the pharmaceutical company reach an agreement.
Pfizer, the company that produces Vyndamax, was accused of setting an excessive price for the drug. The drug was discussed a year ago at the health basket committee but was not added due to its cost.
The drug was ranked first in importance for inclusion in the health basket by the Israel Cardiology Association of the Israel Medical Association and the National Council for the Prevention and Treatment of Cardiovascular Diseases in the Health Ministry.
In August, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Israel contacted coronavirus commissioner Prof. Ronni Gamzu and the Health Ministry to add a ground-breaking and expensive drug called Trikafta to the health basket.
The foundation stressed that, for cystic fibrosis patients, Trikafta is "critical and life-saving also because of their high risk of getting the coronavirus and against the background of their increased risk of becoming seriously ill and God forbid dying from the disease," according to Israel Hayom.
The health basket committee met on Monday for its first meet and planned an additional 18 meetings until mid-January. Some 900 drugs and technologies have been presented to the committee for consideration, reaching a total sum of about NIS three billion. A budget has not yet been set for the health basket, but it is expected to be about NIS 500 million, similar to former years.