One of Israel’s health providers announced Monday it will subsidize HIV medication for patients, marking the first time the socialized healthcare system has opted to cover some of the costs of the drug.
The decision by Meuhedet to subsidize a generic version of the drug Truvada is set to drive a dramatic drop in prices for HIV medication. Under the new policy, Meuhedet patients were expected to pay NIS 300-500 ($83-$138) for the medication instead of the current cost of some NIS 2,100 ($580).
The medication is used for both HIV treatment and prevention.
In addition to Meuhedet, the HMO Clalit also announced it will also soon begin subsidizing HIV drugs for its patients, the Ynet news site reported.
In accordance with Health Ministry directives, doctors will first have to undergo special training in order to be permitted to prescribe the drug. It will only be dispensed to high risk patients.
The Israel AIDS Task Force NGO said the decision was “happy news for many [people] and for the health of the public.”
“We hope that the rest of the HMOs will continue in the path of the HMO Meuhedet,” the NGO’s head Yuval Livnat said. “We will continue in our struggle on this matter until the Health Ministry puts the [HIV] treatment into the the basket of medications [funded by the state] and it is accessible to all.”
While subsidizing the medication will help prevent further HIV cases, Livnat said it was still crucial to continue to use other forms of prevention.
While some 400 Israelis contract HIV each year, the Health Ministry said the rate of infection of 48.7 per 1 million people is low compared to other Western countries.