In March 2016, NHS England removed HIV prevention drug pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) from its official commissioning process — just months before it was due to conclude.
After looking at NHS England’s decision, the National AIDS Trust was certain we had a legal basis to challenge this. We started those proceedings on 12 April 2016. By 18 April, NHS England responded saying it would reconsider its decision. If it all goes well, this means PrEP could be back on the cards.
This is by no means a guarantee that PrEP will be commissioned but what it does mean is that NHS England will have to follow its own procedures or produce a legally valid reason for not doing so.
NHS England is due to meet in May to decide whether to put PrEP back into the decision making process from which it had previously been removed. If it goes back into the process the Clinical Priorities Advisory Group will meet in June to decide what NHS England will commission for 2016/2017, and PrEP will be considered alongside other proposals.
PrEP is one of the most exciting prevention options to emerge since the HIV epidemic began and offers the prospect of real success in combating this virus. If taken properly, it is proven to be effective in stopping HIV transmission in almost every case. To deny the proper process to decide whether to commission PrEP, when 17 people are being diagnosed with HIV every day, is not only legally wrong, but morally wrong also.
Director of policy and campaigns
National AIDS Trust