Scotland has officially approved the use of Truvada as PrEP within the Scottish National Health Service.
According to a press release from the Scottish Medicines Consortium, “Truvada was accepted to help prevent sexually transmitted HIV-1 infection in adults who are at high risk of being infected. Emtricitabine / tenofovir disoproxil given as PrEP is one aspect of an HIV-prevention strategy and should be used in combination with safer sex practices such as using condoms… Patient groups highlighted that current prevention methods have not managed to reduce the spread of HIV in Scotland over the last ten years.”
Reports show that in October 2016, there were approximately 1,700 to 1,900 men who have sex with men in Scotland who could benefit from PrEP, a one-pill-a-day strategy that when taken consistently by an HIV-negative individual can prevent that person from contracting the virus. If 58 percent of those people started PrEP, according to the paper “PrEP in Scotland,” nearly 1,000 people might start it in the first year of it being approved.
In the last five years alone, there has been an average of 359 new HIV diagnoses each year in Scotland. Research estimates that 179 (nearly 50 percent) of these cases could be prevented if PrEP was approved to use.
“The decision was effectively taken a month ago when a public meeting made the recommendation to SMC that they should accept PrEP,” George Valiotis of HIV Scotland told AIDS Map, “but each SMC board member has then to go away and vote on it privately, so the official announcement was not made till today." The next step is now to contact budget holders of the 14 local Health Boards in the country to install a budget line for PrEP and to make sure there is money to pay for it. But they’re in no rush.
“There is no real deadline for this,” Valiotis added, “but in practice it should not take more than three months to get everything in place. I doubt you could go to your sexual health clinic today to get PREP, but in some of the larger health boards it could be available sooner."
In the United Kingdom, Truvada is listed at £4268.76 per person per year. It’s estimated to likely cost around £4 million to supply it the first year, however that number is expected to decline once generic Truvada becomes more available. To bring costs down even further, NHS Scotland is also going to offer MSM a choice between daily dosing or intermittent dosing.