NHS in England to trial HIV PrEP drug as Scotland funds routine access

Patients at high risk of contracting HIV will soon be able to access pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) on the NHS, with routine access to be rolled out in Scotland over the coming months and a new trial set to launch in England.

The PrEP Impact Trial will include at least 10,000 participants and is set to launch ‘by the summer of 2017’ in 200 level-3 STI clinics across England, which will be confirmed over coming weeks.

The trial will run for three years and is expected to answer key outstanding questions on ‘the extent of need, uptake and duration of PrEP’ in patients who do not have HIV, Public Health England (PHE) said.

It follows an announcement that patients in Scotland will be the first in the UK to routinely be offered PrEP, following approval earlier this week from the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC). The drug Truvadin will be rolled out across clinics in the country by July this year.

The anti-retroviral drug can be taken daily by HIV-negative patients as a preventive measure to reduce their risk of contracting the virus, and is recommended alongside safe sex practices.

HIV prevention

The England trial forms a major extension of the national HIV prevention programme, with supplies paid for and secured by NHS England, which has begun ‘competitive procurement’ of the drug.

Patients who attend one of the trial clinics will be clinically risk-assessed, with those considered high-risk offered PrEP.

High-risk populations include men who have sex with men (MSM), injection drug users and certain minority ethnic groups.

Announcing the roll out in Scotland, Dr Alan MacDonald, chairman of the SMC, said: ‘I am pleased we were able to accept these new medicines for routine use in NHS Scotland. Emtricitabine/tenofovir disproxil PrEP, when used together with safer sex practices may help to reduce the spread of HIV, which is an ongoing priority for the Scottish government.’

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