People in Scotland at risk of HIV will be able to access pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) treatment on the NHS.
The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) – which decides which drugs should be made available on the NHS – gave the go-ahead on Monday (10 April) to emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil (marketed as Truvada) to help prevent sexually transmitted HIV infection in adults who are at high risk of being infected.
The decision was welcomed by the PrEP4Scotland Coalition, which represents HIV Scotland, Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland, Waverley Care and the National Aids Trust (NAT).
It applauded the announcement, which it described as a “bold step to tackling HIV in Scotland”.
The Scottish decision is in sharp contrast to the lack of access to PrEP for high-risk patients in England.
NHS England is funding a large-scale three-year clinical trial, due to start this summer, and will wait for the outcome of that before potentially rolling out the provision of PrEP nationwide.
NHS England announced the trial, which is being conducted in partnership with Public Health England, after it lost its Appeal Court action last November, which challenged an earlier High Court ruling that NHS England has the power to fund PrEP.
NAT had gone to the High Court in July after NHS England said PrEP came under the remit of local authorities because it is a preventative drug.
In a statement issued on Monday (10 April), the head of Public Health England’s HIV and STI department, Professor Noel Gill, confirmed that “all the detailed work underpinning the clinical trial of PrEP is well under way” and that it should start this summer.
Updated details of the trial appeared on its website the same day.