The Australian Government Refuses to Fund HIV Prevention Drugs


The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) today rejected submissions to add the HIV preventative drug Truvada as use for PrEP to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

The news is seen as a massive setback to ending HIV in Australia by 2020, delaying Truvada being listed on the PBS by at least 18 months.

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Truvada is an antiretroviral drug used by HIV negative people as part of the HIV preventative pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medical treatment. Because it is not available on the PBS, it effectively costs people hundreds of dollars per prescription.

PBAC rejected the application by Gilead Sciences, saying the cost of making PrEP available to all at-risk people was too high.

Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) chief executive officer Darryl O’Donnell said the announcement restricts access to PrEP among those who need it.

“People are needlessly getting HIV while we wait for access to this prevention pill,” he said.

“The Australian Government has made a world-leading commitment to virtually end HIV transmission in Australia by 2020. We can do this together if we have access to the best prevention tools of which PrEP is pivotal.

“We won’t reach the Australian Government’s goal without PrEP being subsidised through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.”

HIV Foundation Queensland is extremely disappointed.

“We feel that this is a step backwards in Queensland’s fight against HIV,” chair Dr Darren Russell said.

Brisbane has seen a significant reduction in new HIV cases this year, with notifications down more than 30%, and rapid HIV testing across Queensland for the period of April-June 2016 saw 1342 tests performed – an increase of 29% over the same period in 2015.

“For Brisbane to be showing such a large reduction in new HIV cases without wide scale PrEP uptake demonstrates increased awareness and commitment to the cause,” Dr Russell said.

“PrEP is the missing link to ending HIV in Queensland, and it’s a shame that the Federal Government does not recognise this.

“We have evidence that the community is doing their part to end HIV through increased testing, and the Queensland State Government has also shown their support by rolling out a PrEP trial to eligible participants.

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“The Federal Government is letting the community down.”

Gilead Sciences will now have to make a full resubmission later this year for PrEP to be reconsidered at a March 2017 PBAC meeting.

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No Comment

  1. PrEP
    22 August 2016
    Reply

    I am sick to the back teeth of the blatant discrimination against minorities in this country and in particular the discrimination against LGBTI citizens. And I am sick yo death of the Pharmaceutical Advisory Benefits Committee who do an appalling job representing ordinary Australians. So many drugs not listed snd it has a lot to do with the prejudices and research interests of the largely medical and academic boffins who sit on it . . . and once again sig on theif hands because theycan’t get their heads around the equal value of a GLBTI life.

    The practically negligible consumer input to the PBAC needs to be vastly improved, and funded to actually consult broadly with consumer health groups who lnow the realities of both the short and long term social costs of denial of vital medicines to members of the community.

    The Finance Department need to be expunged from the approval process unless they provide a social costing of the short and longer term denial of approvals based on the usual tunnel visioned arguments about cash flow and short term affordability. They are effectively deciding who gets to die sooner rather than kater and are totally overstepping any mandate, any responsibility, that might reasonably be theirs.

    A compassionate government ofvthe people could change this today. Or they could delay, as they are delaying other measures of equal rights for LGBTI people simply because they really do not care.

    Has the community, and the LGBTI community in particular, not neen put through enough?

    PrEP’s time has come. Our time has come. The uber nasty conservative troglodytes who are prepared to keep putting us down will have their day of reckoning no doubt, but in the mean time we need to demand our rights to equality.

    This is just one more heart breaking occasion where the edtablishment gate keepers are expecting the LGBTI and drug using minorities to just lay down quietly and live as second class Australians,

    What it shows me is yhat this government is second class as are the dtug czars whose cavslier decision making is so often so wrong.

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