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NHS England continues to add insult to injury with regard to PrEP funding

On 2 August 2016, the National AIDS Trust (NAT) won its judicial review of NHS England’s removal of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), the highly effective HIV prevention drug, from its commissioning process. The judge ruled that NHS England was wrong to assert that it cannot fund PrEP because it is a prevention intervention.

We have always believed that NHS England can and should fund PrEP (The Pharmaceutical Journal 2016;296:360). Had NHS England never scrapped its original plan to consider commissioning PrEP, we would now be in a different situation. PrEP would have been on a list of new technologies that went to the committee in June and would have been judged on its merits.

Following the judgement, NHS England issued a statement warning that it “cannot now confirm funding” for some of those treatments also on that list. It described PrEP as “a measure to prevent HIV transmission, particularly for men who have high risk condomless sex with multiple male partners”. This was inflammatory, misleading and demonised gay men, as well as others, who would benefit from PrEP — people who have now been pitted against others and portrayed as less deserving. NHS England has failed to acknowledge that the ruling confirms it acted unlawfully in changing their plans on PrEP.

To add insult to injury, despite the comprehensive judgement against it, NHS England has decided to appeal, creating further delay. The blame for this delay sits with NHS England, not those who need PrEP. We will continue to fight for those at risk of HIV, holding NHS England to account as we do so.

Deborah Gold

Chief Executive Officer

National AIDS Trust

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2016.20201550

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