Israel’s 2024 health basket gets 110 new medications and technologies

This year will see an expansion of genetic testing, treatment for adult ADHD, innovative diabetes management, and new drugs for cancer and chronic and rare diseases

Renee Ghert-Zand is the health reporter and a feature writer for The Times of Israel.

Health officials at the announcement of the 2024 health basket recommendations. The center three are (left to right): Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman Tov, Health Minister Uriel Busso, and health basket committee chair Prof. Dina Ben-Yehuda, February 22, 2024. (Courtesy of Health Ministry)
Health officials at the announcement of the 2024 health basket recommendations. The center three are (left to right): Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman Tov, Health Minister Uriel Busso, and health basket committee chair Prof. Dina Ben-Yehuda, February 22, 2024. (Courtesy of Health Ministry)

A committee appointed to expand Israel’s national health basket for 2024 submitted its recommendations to Health Minister Uriel Buso on Thursday.

The committee recommended adding more than 110 medications and medical technologies to the basket at a cost of NIS 650 million ($178.5 million). These additional treatments will help 317,000 people who were previously unable to access them through the public health system.

Israel’s health basket is considered among the best and broadest in the world.

Some 40 percent of the basket’s budget for 2024 is dedicated to newly developed first-line and second-line cancer treatments.

Among the committee’s other notable recommendations are the expanded use of sophisticated, hybrid technology for blood sugar management and insulin delivery for diabetics ages 18-40, and ADHD treatments for young adults aged 18-28.

The committee also recommended that a standard panel of genetic screening tests be made available to all members of the population planning on having children and for women who are already pregnant. Men will be eligible for the testing only if their female partner is found to be affected by or to carry a genetic disease. The testing will be available beginning September 1.

Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov (right) and Health Minister Uriel Busso confer at a meeting announcing the 2024 health basket recommendations, February 22, 2024. (Courtesy of Health Ministry)

The age for amniocentesis eligibility for pregnant women has been lowered to 32 from 35.

This year’s basket additions are partially focused on boosting treatment options for a variety of very rare (also called “orphan”) diseases, as well as neurological diseases, including multiple sclerosis.

There was also an emphasis on adding new drugs and treatments for chronic diseases of the heart, kidneys, lungs and neurological system.

As always, members of the committee faced a challenge in making their selections. Since November, the committee has considered and deliberated over approximately 450 medications and 40 technologies costing a total of more than NIS 3 billion ($823 million).

The committee’s members come from a wide range of specialty areas in medicine and healthcare, including administration, technology, economics and public health.

Health officials at the announcement of the 2024 health basket recommendations. The center three are (left to right): Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov, Health Minister Uriel Busso, and health basket committee chair Prof. Dina Ben-Yehuda, February 22, 2024. (Courtesy of Health Ministry)

“Despite our differences, I felt that what united us in our decision-making was our devotion to ethics and compassion,” said committee chair Prof. Dina Ben-Yehuda. “Many of the medications and technologies are aimed at disease prevention, but many are health-giving, alleviate suffering and prolong life.”

As with every year, some medical organizations and sick individuals and their families criticized the committee for not including specific drugs and medical advances.

“I also recognize that it is a sad day for the patients for whom we could not add new treatments, and I very much hope that we will be able to add those in next year’s basket,” Ben-Yehuda said.

Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov noted that expanding the health basket during wartime is not to be taken for granted.

“In addition to taking care of the many wounded and those who need mental health support, we must continue to address the routine healthcare needs of Israelis, prevent disease and improve public health,” Bar Siman-Tov said.

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