State Comptroller Yosef Shapira scolds the Ministry of Health for not being able to provide data on addiction to prescription drugs in Israel, "despite indications of an increase in consumption."
This is reflected in the new comptroller's report published last month, which further highlights the Ministry of Health's controversial insistence on the use of narcotic drugs as a precondition for approval of medical cannabis applications.
This year's full report presents for the first time an entire chapter entitled "Aspects of the State's Treatment of Addictions", which strongly criticizes the Ministry of Health for not providing data on the extent and significance of the phenomenon.
In fact, the Comptroller accuses the Ministry of Health that in the absence of these data, neither he nor the other relevant bodies can formulate a policy on the subject and act against the phenomenon.
"In recent years, data on the high rate of prescription drug addicts have accumulated in the world, and the phenomenon is also defined as an epidemic that causes addiction and mortality due to the uncontrolled use of prescription drugs," the comptroller writes.
He added: "In Israel too there are indications indicating an increase in the consumption of these drugs and in the number of consumers of prescription drugs suffering from addiction and the harmful use of these drugs."
It should be emphasized that the comptroller's report was written shortly before the findings Released For the first time in the Cannabis magazine and based on OECD data, according to which Israel is in first place in the world in the rise in the use of opioid painkillers.
In addition, the comptroller was apparently unaware of additional data that was also published here And were not included in the report, according to which Israel has a high rate of use of prescription drugs from other mines as well.
According to the State Comptroller, in order to determine a policy regarding the addiction to prescription drugs, the first stage is to build a national database that will indicate the scope of the phenomenon and allow analysis of the findings in order to draw conclusions.
This is not a new insight on the part of the comptroller, but the subject of the Department of Addictions in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Paula Rushka, has also pointed to it at 2015, Was mentioned At a meeting of the Knesset Drug Committee in May, 2016.
Only after this mention in the Knesset Drug Committee did the Ministry of Health first turn to the four large HMOs for data on the use of prescription drugs.
However, according to the comptroller, the information received by the Ministry of Health from the HMOs was "partial information from which it was not possible to derive real information about the extent of the abuse and addiction to these drugs."
Some of the HMOs openly admit that they do not have such data, such as the Maccabi Health Fund, which replied to the comptroller that "there is no reliable information that identifies prescription drug addicts."
But even if the information received from HMOs was perfect, it does not yet include patients who buy prescription drugs privately, as the Health Ministry itself notes in its response to the report.
"Data on the use of drugs are not fully available because there are many cases in which prescriptions are provided by private physicians," the Health Ministry wrote in its response to the comptroller.
The comptroller replies that the Ministry of Health must "act to gather information from private physicians through a survey or other means," according to the report's conclusions.
Despite its deficiencies, the Ministry of Health has made at least one positive change, which is expected to come into effect soon, in the framework of which the Department of Addictions will begin to participate officially in the Ministry of Health's audits of the HMOs in order to collect data on addiction to prescription drugs.