latest health care news

08.06.16

NICE to carry out review of commissioning for PrEP

NICE will carry out a review of the effectiveness of Truvada, the drug used in HIV prevention treatment PrEP, despite the decision for the NHS to stop commissioning the drug.

Jane Ellison MP, parliamentary under-secretary for health, announced that NICE would carry out a review of Truvada in high-risk groups for HIV, along with an existing £2m to fund research into carrying out pilots of the drug.

However, Andrew Gwynne MP, the shadow health minister, asked why health secretary Jeremy Hunt had not delegated power to commission PrEP to NHS England, saying he had the power to do so under section 7A of the National Health Service Act 2006.

He also urged the government to ensure that local government public health services do not face further cuts, and to try to avoid the threat of “costly, protracted legal action” from charities such as the National AIDs Trust.

Ellison accused him of being “ahead of the moment”, although she admitted that “the matter is likely to go before the courts”.

However, a number of MPs from both sides challenged the decision. Dr Andrew Murrison pointed out the “urgency” of making the drug available, adding that it had already been approved in France.

Helen Hayes insisted that NHS England was “the natural commissioner of PrEP” and Fiona Mctaggart asked: “Does the Minister understand that this delay in sorting out who will pay for PrEP will lead to the deaths of hundreds of people in Britain?”

Ellison replied that more needed to be done to understand the effectiveness of commissioning PrEP.

“I am not saying that it is not clinically effective,” she said, “we just have to understand more about how it sits in the context of everything else that we do, and we have to understand more about its cost-effectiveness. The modelling work that was undertaken indicated that PrEP can be cost-effective for some high-risk groups, but the period over which that cost-effectiveness pays back needs to be more broadly understood.”

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