ACON has welcomed the decision by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to license the use of Truvada, arguably one of the most significant developments in HIV prevention in 30 years.
Announced on May 6th, Truvada – the brand name drug made by Gilead that is used as PrEP – has been listed for prevention purposes on the Register of Therapeutic Goods following years of advocacy by organisations including ACON and our many partners.
The news brings Australia into line with other countries that have approved the use of Truvada as PrEP, including the United States, Canada, France and South Africa.
“Today’s announcement from the TGA is truly very important and we are thrilled that this important milestone has been achieved,” said ACON’s President Dr Justin Koonin. “ACON congratulates the TGA on this significant outcome. PrEP works and alongside high HIV testing rates among gay men, strong treatment uptake among people with HIV and the continuing high rates of condom use, we have the tools to end transmission by 2020.”
CEO Nicolas Parkhill congratulated the NSW government for the leadership it has shown on PrEP.
“We have seen significant policy leadership at the state level from NSW Health Minster Jillian Skinner, including through the development and funding of the EPIC-NSW study which has scope for 3,700 people to commence PrEP.”
“Along with similar trial expansions in Victoria and Queensland, the access to PrEP across Australia continues to grow and the way it has been used demonstrates that gay men are seeking to proactively take control of their sexual health, their partners and their community.”
“PrEP has the ability to change the course of HIV in a truly historic way but its potential will only be fully realised if all barriers to access are removed, namely cost. Without being added to the PBS, full-price Truvada remains out of reach for a significant majority of those at risk of acquiring HIV.” Parkhill says.
The approval announced by the TGA is only for brand-name Truvada and does not cover generic versions of the drug. Currently, affordable access to PrEP for gay men, who are not on one of the various state-based trials, is only available to those that import generic Truvada from overseas pharmacies.
Without addition to the PBS, the somewhat protracted and occasionally problematic process of self-importation remains the most affordable means by which gay men can access PrEP. However, despite self-importation being cheaper, for many gay men the cost remains too high.
“Costs associated with PrEP are a primary concern to ACON and gay men should not be priced out of one of the most significant developments in HIV prevention in 30 years.” Parkhill said.
“The two-year EPIC-NSW study will end and before that time comes, movement is needed to ensure that PrEP is affordable and accessible.”
Learn more about PrEP here.