[Ip-health] BBC: NHS England has power to fund Prep HIV drug, court decides

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Fri Nov 11 00:47:14 PST 2016


NHS England has power to fund Prep HIV drug, court decides

10 November 2016

The Court of Appeal has ruled that the NHS in England has the power to fund
a drug which prevents HIV infection in people at high risk of the virus.

NHS England had previously said that local authorities should provide the
pre-exposure prophylaxis drug - known as Prep - because they are
responsible for preventative health.

But the court insisted this fell within the remit of the NHS.

An estimated 14,000 people would be eligible for Prep in England.

Campaigners and the Local Government Association, which represents local
authorities, said they were delighted by the decision.

NHS England said the judgment confirmed that it had the ability, but not
the obligation, to fund Prep.

An NHS spokesman said it would now formally consider whether to fund the

"Second, we will discuss with local authorities how NHS-funded Prep
medication could be administered by the sexual health teams they commission.

"Third, we will immediately ask the drug manufacturer to reconsider its
currently proposed excessively high pricing, and will also explore options
for using generics."

Prevention power

In August, the High Court told NHS England it could fund the drug because
it was wrong to classify Prep as preventative, given that it acts in the
body to treat infection.

This came after a successful challenge by the National Aids Trust (NAT) and
other campaigners.

Deborah Gold, chief executive of NAT, said they were delighted that the
Court of Appeal had confirmed the earlier judgement.

"HIV is a critical issue in the UK where over 4,000 people acquire HIV
every year.

"Prep works, it saves money, and most importantly it has the power to
prevent HIV acquisition for thousands of people, at the same time as
beginning to end the HIV epidemic.

"This judgement brings that possibility one step closer."

She said she hoped NHS England would now make "a balanced and
evidence-based decision on Prep".

Clarity of roles

Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the Local Government Association's community
wellbeing board, said treatment with Prep was clearly part of NHS England's
commissioning powers.

"We now hope this decision will provide much-needed clarity around the
roles of councils and the NHS on prevention services.

She added: "It is time for NHS England to stop delaying and finally
determine whether to commission this treatment, which could greatly reduce
the risk of HIV infection."

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