NHS England has the power to fund the HIV prevention drug PrEP, the Court of Appeal has ruled.
As we have discussed previously, the NHS has said that they believe it is down to local authorities to fund PrEP, because they are the ones responsible for preventative health.
However, the court has insisted that the funding of PrEP is the NHS’ responsibility. However, before you celebrate – this only means that the NHS has the ability to fund PrEP, it does not mean they have an obligation to do so.
But an NHS spokeswomen has said they will now formally consider whether or not to fund the lifesaving drug.
She said: “Second, we will discuss with local authorities how NHS-funded Prep medication could be administered by the sexual health teams they commission. Third, we will immediately ask the drug manufacturer to reconsider its currently proposed excessively high pricing, and will also explore options for using generics.”
You may recall how back in August, the High Court ruled that it was incorrect to call PrEP preventative as it acts in the body to prevent infection. This was a result of a successful challenge by the National Aids Trust (NAT), alongside other campaigners.
Naturally, the NAT are very pleased that the initial ruling has been reinforced.
Deborah Gold, chief executive of NAT, said:”HIV is a critical issue in the UK where over 4,000 people acquire HIV every year. Prep works, it saves money, and most importantly it has the power to prevent HIV acquisition for thousands of people, at the same time as beginning to end the HIV epidemic. This judgement brings that possibility one step closer.”
She expressed hope that the NHS “a balanced and evidence-based decision on Prep”.
Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the Local Government Association, was also in agreement that the funding of PrEP falls under the NHS’ remit.
She said: “We now hope this decision will provide much-needed clarity around the roles of councils and the NHS on prevention services. It is time for NHS England to stop delaying and finally determine whether to commission this treatment, which could greatly reduce the risk of HIV infection.”