latest health care news

01.06.16

NHS accused of failing patients after refusing to fund HIV drug

HIV/AIDs activists have accused the NHS of failing patients after it confirmed that it will stop commissioning anti-infection drug PrEP.

The NHS said that it had received independent legal advice saying it did not have the power to commission the drug because it overlaps with the legal duty of local authorities to provide services for sexual infection prevention.

The NHS review of the decision, initially announced in March, follows a legal challenge from the National AIDs Trust (NAT).

Deborah Gold, chief executive of NAT, said: “NHS England is sitting on something that could be the beginning of the end for the HIV epidemic – if only it were made available. The refusal to commission it for all those at significant risk is astonishing.

“Seventeen people are being diagnosed with HIV every day. We are extremely disappointed and we will now be looking at our options, including further legal action.”

The NHS said that, regardless of the legal advice, there was “no guarantee” that it would be able to fund PrEP, due to the competition between different services and treatments for funding.

It added that it would commit £2m over the next two years to a joint venture with Public Health England to research the most efficient ways of commissioning PrEP in pilot areas.

Ian Green, chief executive of the Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “This is a shameful day for HIV prevention. This country used to lead the way in the fight against the HIV epidemic, but today, our national health service has washed its hands of one of the most stunning breakthroughs we’ve seen; a pill which, if taken correctly, is almost 100% effective in preventing HIV.

“How did it come to this? It defies belief that, after 18 months of false hope, delays and U-turns in the battle to see PrEP made available on the NHS to people at high risk of HIV, today we are in a worse position than when we started.”

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Comments

Alan Dimmick   01/06/2016 at 12:16

If you buy a motor cycle, for safety reasons you purchase a crash helmet to provide protection in case you have an accident. If you have (your choice) a life style that puts you at risk of HIV infection would you not pay for preventive medication yourself.

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