Drugs Morguefile

The committee that decides which medicines are to be covered under Israel's national health law on Thursday announced its new list of covered medicines and treatments for the coming year. Beginning next week, the “medicine basket” will include an additional 77 medications, that will cover treatments for which some 70,000 Israelis have until now been forced to pay out of their own pockets.

Among the new medications and treatments to be added are Byetta and Victoza, treatments for Type-II (adult) diabetes; MucoClear, a treatment for cystic fibrosis; several treatments for eye problems, including Ganfort; drugs for fertility treatments, AIDS, osteoporosis, and schizophrenia; as well ten new drugs for treatment of various cancers, including Afintor for treatment of SEGA brain tumors – a drug that six people in Israel currently take, at a cost of NIS 141,000 per person annually; as well as three new medical technologies for treatment of paralysis, pregnancy problems, and oral care.

The most expensive new medicines in the basket are Yerboy and Zelboraf, for treatment of melanoma; these two drugs take up NIS 47 million of the NIS 300 million being laid out for the coming year for these 77 new treatments. Altogether, the government will be spending NIS 6.7 billion on subsidized drugs next. Access to the drugs will be either free, or very low cost (most will cost Israelis NIS 10 per treatment). All Israelis and their families who pay National Insurance Institute (Bituach Leumi) levies, or who are covered for those payments, are covered by the national health law, and are eligible to receive the treatments.

Deputy Health Minister Ya'akov Litzman said that he was satisfied with the committee's work. “It's not easy being a member of this panel. You have to decide what is important and what is not important. This year it was decided to include several very expensive treatments in the basket, aiding a number of Israelis who could not afford the treatments,” he said.

Not included in the basket this year are flu and other preventative shots, and Litzman promised to obtain funding to pay for those as well. The commitee had said that they preferred to use their limited resouces for treatments of the sick, as opposed to innoculating the healthy.

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