The availability of pre-exposure prophylaxis(PrEP) has just become a whole lot easier after the Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) registered Truvada as an HIV prevention medication.
Truvada is the brand name of the HIV medication is used as PrEP by people not living with HIV to prevent them from acquiring the virus.
This decision makes it easier for doctors in Australia to prescribe PrEP and for people to import it for themselves.
The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisation(AFAO) has said it would continue to urge the Australian government to make the medication more affordable for people as it is still not funded.
Executive Director Darryl O’Donnell says AFAO has been strongly advocating for Truvada as PrEP over a number of years, and the announcement today will be celebrated.
He said that while the news was positive for the community, the work must continue to make PrEP affordable through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme(PBS), especially given the limited resources of those who can be at risk of HIV.
“We have a national, bipartisan commitment to virtually eliminate HIV transmission in Australia by 2020. That’s only four years away, and although we have a long way to go, affordable, PBS-listed PrEP would make all the difference,” O’Donnell said.
“Without PBS listing, the cost of filling a Truvada script is prohibitive. The registration of Truvada as PrEP is a step in the right direction, but now we must make it affordable.
“Without PBS listing, this is a wasted tool. The Government must urgently fund PrEP in order to prevent many of the 1100 HIV diagnoses that occur every year.”
The development potentially has implications for New Zealand as currently PrEP is neither approved by MedSafe nor funded by PHARMAC.
In order for Kiwis to get the full benefit of PrEP, MedSafe would first need to approve Truvada as safe for PrEP use much the same as Australia.
To make it affordable, the medication would then need to be funded by PHARMAC.
New Zealand AIDS Foundation(NZAF) Executive Director Shaun Robinson said an application to MedSafe can only be made by the manufacturer, Gilead Sciences.
“NZAF and our clinical sector colleagues have been urging Gilead Sciences to apply for MedSafe approval for some time now,” Mr Robinson said.
“We hope that the approval by Australia’s TGA will encourage the manufacturer to urgently proceed with a similar application in New Zealand.
“If and when NZ MedSafe approves Truvada, it will take us one step closer to PrEP being funded and will also make the prescription for private importation easier.”
The Foundation will continue advocating for PrEP to be made available in New Zealand so that Kiwis get the full health benefits of the medication.
Scientific evidence confirms that when taken under the directions of a doctor, PrEP is a very effective tool to preventing HIV.
Along with condoms, testing, and treatment, PrEP gives people at risk an additional tool for taking control of their health and well-being.
Last Updated on May 7, 2016