The cost of HIV prevention pill PrEP will drastically reduce after it finally received approval for PBS listing (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) on Friday.
PrEP, which stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a once-daily pill. Studies show that it dramatically reduces the risk of HIV transmission in HIV-negative people.
Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC)
In its decision published late on Friday, PBAC found PrEP provides “a significant reduction” in the risk of HIV transmission.
Around 10,000 Australians currently receive free PrEP through trials run by state governments. However, without a subsidy, the cost makes the medication too expensive for many men not on a trial.
The long-awaited PBAC approval gives the green light for federal health minister Greg Hunt to list the drug on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. That would make it available to at-risk men at a much lower price.
The PBS listing would lower the price from thousands of dollars a year to less than $40 per month.
Mr Hunt said in December if the PBC recommended the drug the government “will list it and list it quickly.”
Because of HIV prevention, PrEP will save millions of dollars
Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) CEO Darryl O’Donnell welcomed the decision. He said a single averted HIV transmission saves the Australian taxpayer $1 million in lifetime costs.
“Making PrEP available and affordable is not only a public health goal, it will also save millions of dollars.”
He said the government needed coordinated leadership and resources to end HIV transmission in Australia.
“Gay and bisexual men continue to carry the greatest burden of HIV in Australia. We expect that PrEP will sharply drive down rates of HIV for this community.
“But great effort will be needed to ensure PrEP access and awareness across all parts of the gay community.
“Additionally, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, migrant communities and some heterosexual populations have seen starkly higher rates of HIV transmission over the last five years.
“While a PBS listing of PrEP is critical, we must make sure everyone who needs PrEP is aware of it and can access it.”
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