The appeal of over a million patients in the last two years to Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, through 20 representative patient organizations, did not even receive a response from him. The organizations approached Horowitz with a request to participate as observers in the meetings of the committee of the drug basket, which began its work last week and will finish it in December. In this framework, the committee approves the entry of medicines into the health basket.
The patients, through the organizations, wonder why the Ministry of Health insists on not allowing full transparency in these crucial discussions in the sub-committees. Compared to the FDA in the USA and the EM in Europe, where the agencies implement real cooperation of patient organizations in the decision-making process, the basket committee
In Israel, various parties participate, including members of the Ministry of Finance and representatives of the health insurance funds – while the voices of the patients themselves are not heard.
“There is no apparent reason to prevent the participation of representatives of patient organizations in the deliberations of the subcommittees,” said Attorney Eyal Tzur, chairman of the Crohn’s and Colitis Association and a member of the Coalition of Patient Organizations. “This will only contribute to the quality of the decisions that will be made and their moral and public validity, and one hour earlier is fine. I have no doubt that eventually a way will be found to ensure the participation of patient organizations in the process.
“I regret that the Minister of Health did not find it appropriate to devote the little time required to hear the patients’ position before he made the decision on the composition of the Basket 2023 Committee. I hope that at the very least the Minister of Health will now, as a first step, allow the participation of representatives of patient organizations as observers.” Adv. Tzur added.
The response of the Ministry of Health: “A lot of work is invested in the discussion process of the Basket Committee, and the process, which has been carried out for many years, and is accepted by the authorities in the health system and outside, is highly appreciated in Israel and abroad. The office is careful about the transparency of the process and the transfer of information to the public in various ways, where the transparency of the process is praised in Israel and around the world.
“In the hearings, the presence of journalists is possible, the main decisions of the basket committee are published on the ministry’s website a few days after each meeting and allow anyone interested in following its decisions to challenge it in real time or contact the committee. In addition, any applicant who is interested in receiving feedback on the committee’s decisions can contact the technology assessment department in the health basket. These meetings are held frequently in the first months of the year in preparation for updating the basket for the following year, and allow the applicants to receive feedback regarding the submission and the considerations in the committee.
“The basket committee has four public representatives from legal, ethical, social and other fields. The Ministry of Health allows anyone interested in participating in the process, including patients, to submit their personal reference and experience from a particular treatment, and it is presented to the members of the basket committee. During the committee’s deliberations, the chairman of the committee even met
with patient associations, and you can contact the members of the committee in other ways.”