Patients' group sues Health Ministry

High Court claim says delays in approving 330 medications cause suffering.

drugs 88 (photo credit: )
drugs 88
(photo credit: )
The Health Ministry's failure to register 330 different medications for sale in Israel induced the Society for Patients' Rights in Israel to bring a suit against Minister Ya'acov Edri and three senior officials on Monday. The society argues that thousands of patients who need these drugs are suffering and liable to face serious harm as a result, noting that the registration process is considerably faster in the US and Europe. None of the drugs in the list are included in the basket of health services supplied by the health funds, thus patients will have to pay themselves to get them even after they are registered by the ministry. The society argued that while the ministry is charged with ensuring that drugs sold here are of high quality, safe and effective, the ministry's registration process takes too long because it doesn't have the resources to test drugs itself. The society thus calls on the High Court to ensure that the ministry automatically approves drugs that have been authorized for sale by the US Food and Drug Administration and the European drug registration authorities. Fully 78 of the 330 medications have been waiting for ministry approval since 2004, the society said. This delay is unconscionable, the plaintiffs said in the suit against Edri, ministry director-general Prof. Avi Yisraeli, medical technologies head Osnat Luxemburg and pharmaceuticals chief Batya Haran. The ministry spokeswoman commented that Edri, who recently took office, gave instructions to officials to find a short- and long-term solution to the problem and approve medical technologies within a reasonable period of time. But he said that the ministry could not automatically approve what the US and European authorities do, because errors in judgement have been made there. He said that in any case, special approval can be given by the ministry for personal import of unregistered drugs after an application is filed with an explanation by a doctor. Of the 330 drugs in the queue, Edri said, only 25 are new and lifesaving drugs; the ministry promises to find a short-term solution for these, he added.