Eighty-three new medications and medical technologies were added to Israel's "health basket" on Thursday, benfitting 108,500 patients at the cost of NIS 300 million.
However, 350,000 patients won't get the vital medications they need - out of the 122 drugs defined as "extremely vital" by the Health Basket Committee, at the cost of over NIS 1 billion, only 67 were included (the rest were ranked lower in importance and were only included because they did not require additional funds).
The "health basket" is the list of medical services and medications given to Israeli citizens by the HMOs that are funded by the state.
The Health Basket Committee was headed by Prof. Rafael Beyar, the director of the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, and includes representatives from the Health Ministry led by Dr. Osnat Luxenburg, the director of Medical Technology and Infrastructure Administration, and representatives from the Finance Ministry and the HMOs, elected representatives and representatives of Israel's doctors associations.
Some 700 medications, vaccines and medical technologies were proposed for the health basket at the cost of NIS 2 billion, but with a limited budget, many were not included.
"NIS 300 million is not enough, but I have no complaints towards the Finance Ministry, I understand the limitations," said Health Minister Yaakov Litzman.
A third of the budget, almost NIS 108 million, was allocated to 16 cancer drugs. Among the medications approved are ones to treat Myeloma (bone marrow cancer), leukemia, metastatic pancreatic cancer, kidney cancer, prostate cancer for patients at an advanced stage of the disease, endocrine treatments for patients at an advanced stage of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, lung cancer, and more.
The Keytruda drug which "makes lung cancer tumors disappear," was not included in the health basket.
In the field of genetics, the committee approved DNA tests to discover genetic diseases among Jews of Moroccan heritage as well as a number of common illnesses among the Arab and Druze populations.
Umbilical cord blood banking for families in which a first-degree relative has blood cancer or other blood diseases was also approved.
The scope of drugs used to treat Hepatitis C, which affects the liver, was also expanded. Last year, the committee surprised many when it dedicated a third of the health basket's budget to hepatitis genotype 1 patients who are in stage 3 or 4 of scarring, at the cost of NIS 99 million. This year, the committee expanded the treatment to additional drugs used to treat patients infected with Hepatitis C genotype 1, as well as those infected with genotypes 2, 3 and 4, at stage 3 or 4 of scarring, all at the cost of NIS 54 million.
Almost NIS 7 million was allocated to drugs for diabetes patients. Among the drugs included are Tregludec for treating Type 1 diabetes (juvenile diabetes). This is the first time in a decade a treatment for Type 1 diabetes patients is added to the health basket.
In addition, the drug Actos was approved for second or third line treatment of type 2 diabetes, after the use of another drug was unsuccessful.
Committee members were divided on whether to include the drug Tagrisso, for treating non-small-cell lung carcinoma with a certain mutation, given to patients for whom another treatment was unsuccessful. The committee was wary of the high cost of including the drug - NIS 17.8 million a year. It eventually decided to include the drug mostly out of concern the medication's price would significant rise next year.
Among the medical technologies added to the health basket is Ella - an emergency contraceptive to prevent pregnancy for victims of sexual assaults.
The committee also approved Attent, a treatment for children with ADHD who did not respond to other treatments like Ritalin and Concerta. The cost of the drug is over NIS 10 million.
In the field of dentistry, the committee approved orthodontic treatment to those suffering from a birth defect, at the cost of NIS 5.3 million.
The committee also approved medical food for ALS patients, children until the age of four suffering from kidney failure and children aged 4-19 who are suffering from chronic, metabolic and neurologic illnesses, at the cost of NIS 12 million.
Duodopa, a treatment for patients suffering from advanced stages of Parkinson, was not approved. This is the fourth year the treatment is proposed to the committee and rejected, due to its high cost - NIS 197,244 per patient, for 110 patients, totaling at an overall budget of NIS 24 million.