Netanyahu calls for openness in health funds' purchase of meds

Netanyahu calls for open

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called on Sunday for greater transparency on the part of the country's health funds regarding their purchase of drugs that cost the state, according to the updated basket of drugs approved by the government, some NIS 6 billion a year. During a briefing in the cabinet on the basket of drugs subsidized by the state, Netanyahu said the purchase of medications and medical technology needed to be transparent, and not hidden as it was today. "It is forbidden for the health funds to pay high prices for the medication, and then keep those numbers to themselves," the prime minister said. "Those are public funds, and maximum transparency is needed. There is no reason not to buy medication and technology in the cheapest ways possible." His concern, according to government sources, is that if the process is not open, then purchasing the medication at the lowest cost may not always be the health funds' driving consideration. Netanyahu, who is formally the country's health minister, said that a more transparent process could save the country hundreds of millions of shekels. He also asked why every year a number of new drugs are added to the basket, while the medications they come to replace are not automatically removed. Netanyahu called on Deputy Health Minister Ya'acov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) to undertake an external inquiry into the prices of the medications in the basket. Litzman said that no one has dared to do this in the past because the issue was "very sensitive."