Today (Sunday) the concluding discussion of the Medicine Basket Committee will begin, which will last two days, after which it will be decided on several dozen medicines that will be given to patients free of charge.
The committee's decision will be announced on Tuesday.
About 200 medicines and technologies with a cost of about NIS 2.5 to 3 billion reached the final discussion.
Health Minister Aryeh Deri managed to increase the addition to the medicine basket from 550 million to 650 million NIS at the end of the week.
This is the largest addition to the medicine basket ever.
The members of the subcommittee of the health basket held intensive discussions with the pharmaceutical companies until Thursday, in an attempt to lower the prices of the medicines.
Among the drugs that came up for the final discussions can be found treatments for diabetes, attention and concentration disorder for adults, injections to lower cholesterol, funding for surrogacy for single men and gay couples, drugs for breast cancer and lung cancer, funding for eyeglasses for children, funding for abortions for women aged 33-40 (for the rest of the age group) The financing is already included in the basket), and more.
The biggest medicine basket ever (illustration), photo: GettyImages
The members of the committee are expected to be greeted this morning in Tel Hashomer by patients who will demonstrate and ask for their treatment to be included in the medicine basket.
The Medicines Basket Committee is one of the most influential and important public committees.
It includes 18 members including public representatives, doctors, representatives of the four health insurance funds and representatives of the Ministries of Health and Finance.
The chairman of the committee is Prof. Dina Ben Yehuda, dean of the Faculty of Medicine in Jerusalem, and the coordinator of the committee is Dr. Osnat Luxenburg, director of the Medical Technologies Division at the Ministry of Health.
The amount of the addition to the medicine basket,
The basket's budget increased this year in an unprecedented way to 650 million NIS.
Deputy Minister of Health Moshe Arbel of the Shas informed that "Minister Deri agreed with the Minister of Finance that the first pulse of increasing the basket will begin already during the year 2023, and therefore he directed the basket committee to prioritize medicines and technologies with an additional 100 million NIS that will come into effect in the middle of the year, so That the increase will amount to 650 million NIS in the base."
It is estimated that the addition of 100 million NIS will be approved only in the middle of the year after the approval of the state budget.
"Help us live"
Among the patients who are watching the decision of the basket of medicines committee is Rachel Asor (72) from Migdal Ha'emek, married, mother of four children and grandmother of three grandchildren, who has small cell lung cancer.
Rachel was diagnosed about a year and a half ago.
"I felt weak for a long time and happened to go to the hotline in Migdal Ha'Emek. There they sent me to the emergency room because I had the feeling that I couldn't breathe."
At the hospital, they performed a lung x-ray on her and released her to her home.
"When I got home, the doctor called and said there was a suspicion of a cancerous mass and that treatment should be started immediately."
Rachel has been suffering from polio for two years, which affected her ability to walk, and from the moment she started the chemotherapy treatments, she is unable to stand on her feet.
Rachel needs the drug "Impinzi".
"This medicine can help patients in my condition. It is given intravenously and there is no need to go through the great suffering of chemotherapy," says Rachel.
"I hope that this medicine will go into the basket this year so that I can continue to see my grandchildren grow up."
The drugs that will go into the basket - and those that will not,
Another patient, for whom the intended treatment has already failed in previous stages, is Michal Simon, a patient with the chronic disease endometriosis, which affects women of reproductive age.
"I was very disappointed to hear about the rejection of funding for fertility preservation treatments by the basket committee for women facing the disease," she says.
"Women who cannot finance the preservation process privately, due to its high financial cost, their chances of becoming mothers are significantly compromised, what's more, fertility preservation can save the state costs of expensive fertility treatments in the future."
Amnon Ben Tor (87), recipient of the 2019 Israel Archeology Prize, and one of the greatest Israeli archaeologists today, was diagnosed a year ago with a rare and deadly blood cancer that attacks about five Israelis every year, half of whom will die within one year.
Until recently, there was no dedicated treatment for the disease and patients were treated with chemotherapy with extremely low success rates.
Now the disease has a new drug called Alzonris which extends the lives of patients by more than three years.
"From the moment I was treated with Elzonris, the symptoms of the disease disappeared almost completely," says Ben Tor.
"In the beginning, I used my private insurance and financed the medicine for myself. Today, after reaching the insurance ceiling, I receive Elzonris as part of compassionate care, but I am very afraid of the day when, God forbid, it will be decided to stop giving it to me. I turn to the decision-makers at the Ministry of Health and ask - allow me to continue living my life Filled with my family and grandchildren, help me save my life."
The transparent patients
A special dilemma is caused by drugs for "orphan diseases" - diseases in which there are a small number of patients (sometimes one or two patients).
These drugs prolong life, but their price reaches many millions of shekels.
In the previous discussion of the basket committee, it was decided to drop all drugs for rare metabolic diseases, including a drug called "imcrive" to treat genetic obesity in children with a genetic deficiency, at a cost of over NIS 600,000 per patient per year.
The drug "Vimzim" to prevent disability for 29 patients at a total cost of 48 million NIS, "Xenfozyme" - an alternative enzymatic treatment for five patients, and the drug "Noliberry" which reduces the risk of mortality and is intended for two patients with metabolic deficiency and costs 4 million NIS per patient.
Orly Dror Azoriel, CEO of the Coalition for Rare Diseases in Israel, said: "We were surprised to find out that the basket committee chose this year not to approve any of the drugs for rare metabolic diseases.
Unfortunately, even though the State of Israel has started taking steps to help people with rare diseases, they still remain transparent in the eyes of the system, which instead of acting so that they receive the medicines that will save their lives, leaves them orphans in the fight for their lives."
Without metabolic drugs (illustration), photo: GettyImages
Psychiatry is another field that suffers from a minority of torturers for the patients.
The only psychiatric drugs that continue to the final hearings are "Normal" for bipolar disorder and the drug "Escitalopram" for the treatment of depression, as well as treatments for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Dr. Zvi Fishel, chairman of the National Council for Mental Health: "As every year, the Israel Psychiatry Association recommends adding to the basket of medicines a drug treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder for adults.
Strangely, until now it was not possible to treat an adult with attention deficit disorder.
"The wind blowing from the committee this year bodes well, and we hope that the State of Israel will recognize the suffering of those afflicted with this disorder and approve effective treatment, which has existed for decades."
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