In an effort to help alleviate the financial burden on Israel’s medical cannabis patients, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kisch announced on Sunday a pilot program that will subsidize medical cannabis products to around half their current prices. The program will start immediately and run through the end of 2020.The pilot program states that a large number of companies in the medical cannabis market in Israel will now have to offer their products at discounted prices of NIS 140 per ten grams for adults, and NIS 100 per ten grams for young patients (up to age 21).reforms Edelstein’s predecessor, UTJ leader Ya’acov Litzman, attempted in 2018. The reform has since been widely criticized for causing long lines, a decline in product quality, and major product shortages which turned Israel from a major medical cannabis exporter, to the world's leading medical cannabis importer.Measures aimed at addressing these issues passed in the Knesset plenum in June, as a part of two bills which were put forth by the Likud and Blue and White parties and aimed to decriminalize and legalize recreational cannabis, respectively.However, as the legislation is still being reworked in the Knesset Judiciary Committee, suffering patients have continued to feel the brunt of the negative effects from Litzman’s reform, prompting Edelstein to announce the pilot program.Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said in a statement after the announcement that “after medical cannabis consumers had to pay huge sums for the drug, I am glad we’ve started the product discounting process. Much more work is needed to make the price accessible and reduce it further even after the pilot period and we will do so.”Deputy Health Minister MK Yoav Kisch said after the announcement that he was “pleased” that they could address what he says is the most “urgent” problem in need of fixing within the industry, the price.“This is an experimental pilot of three months that will provide an immediate price reduction with a continuous supply of inventory while opening up the export market to cannabis companies in the State of Israel. The success of the move and the burden of proof depend on the manufacturers. If the inventories and low prices are maintained, so will the ability to export after the pilot,” Kisch said.The companies who have so far signed on to participate in the pilot are Canndoc, Panaxia, Better, Univo, BOL, Together Pharma, Tikkun Olam, Seach and MediCann.Dr. Dadi Segal, CEO of Panaxia, Israel’s largest medical cannabis company, welcomed the announcement that Panaxia’s price changes will take place starting on Monday.“This is good news for the entire Israeli economy, for the companies that operate in it and for medical cannabis patients in Israel, which will subsequently have greater access to quality products at subsidized price,” Segal said.In addition to helping the financial burden on the patients’ side, the pilot also works to ensure a steadier supply of medical cannabis grown in Israel, ruling that only companies who participate in the pilot will be allowed to export their products overseas.The pilot seems aimed at addressing some of the issues which arose from the
The Pharmaceutical Association of Israel also welcomed the reform, saying "we willingly agreed to lend a shoulder and get under the stretcher, especially in light of the unusual and sensitive situation that is happening in the country, and the world at large."
"We hope that the current pilot will be successful, and will become an integral part of the whole reform," they added.