It is estimated about 2.5 million people are infected with HIV every year and with no vaccine or cure for AIDS, prevention is the prime focus in the battle against this disease. In the latter half of 2016, Gilead’s AIDS prevention pill, Truvada received approval from the EMA. Once-daily Truvada is an antiretroviral medicine for adults at a high risk of HIV-1 infection. Using Truvada as a pre-exposure prophylaxis, alongside education on safer sex practices and combination therapies, will reduce the transmission rates of HIV across Europe. Making the drug available has been described as a game changer for HIV treatment.
In November, the court informed the NHS that it should pay up to £20 million for the drug – a controversial decision as the NHS believed it will not be able to provide treatments for other diseases, such as cystic fibrosis. The once-daily pill has an NHS list price of around £355 a month but this is said to still be cheaper than the cost of treating HIV infection. In a battle with the National AIDS Trust (NAT), NHS England argued that it didn’t have the legal power to fund a nation PrEP service and that it was the job of the local authorities to fund the fight against the spread of infection as they control preventative health. However, in December 2016, the UK Court of Appeal ruled that NHS England does indeed have the legal power to fund a service to prevent HIV infection in those at risk though Truvada. As a result, NHS England will now formally consider the funding of PrEP treatment, whilst asking the drug manufacturers to reconsider its currently proposed high pricing of the drug.