The Federal Government’s prompt action in adding HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) is welcomed by Burnet Institute as an important step forward for HIV prevention in Australia.
Federal Health Minister, The Hon Greg Hunt MP, announced that from April 1st, the cost of PrEP would be slashed to around $39.50 per script, and $6.30 for concession cardholders.
Previously PrEP had only been accessible in Australia via research trials such as PrEPX or through an “off-label” prescription at a cost of around $1000 per month, though cheaper generic versions were available from overseas.
PrEP is used by people who are HIV negative but at high risk of contracting HIV to lower their chances of becoming infected.
Research and trials have shown that PrEP is highly effective if taken daily.
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) announced its approval for PrEP in February, clearing the way for the drug’s listing on the PBS.
“It’s great news that the approval for PrEP has been expedited as quickly as possible,“ Chad Hughes, Burnet Institute Deputy Program Director, Disease Elimination, said.
“This will allow people who haven’t made it on to the trials so far to have access to the medications in the next couple of weeks.
“We hope that the transition for people who are on trials like PrEPX is smooth and allows them to transfer from the trial that they’re on to PBS-funded PrEP as quickly as possible.
“We know that PrEP works, and it’s now about getting as many people on to that prevention method as possible and as required in the shortest possible time.”
Mr Hunt described the decision to list PrEP on the PBS as one of the most significant advancements in HIV transmission Australia has ever seen.
“Access to PrEP will not only benefit gay and bisexual men but will also drive down rates of HIV in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, migrant communities and other population groups which have seen increased transmission rates over recent years,” Mr Hunt said.
Find out more about Burnet’s HIV research.