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A HIV prevention drug is being made available to Irish pharmacies at a 70% cheaper cost

PrEP is a once daily medication that can significantly reduce risk of infection among HIV-negative people at high risk.

Image: ktsdesign via Shutterstock

A MEDICATION THAT dramatically reduces the risk of contracting HIV is to be made available on prescription through Irish pharmacists at a significantly cheaper price than the current €400 a month.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a once daily medication that can significantly reduce risk of infection among HIV-negative people at high risk.

To date, PrEP has only been available to buy on prescription at a price of over €400 a month in Ireland.

However, marking World AIDS Day, Teva Pharmaceuticals confirmed its more affordable, generic version of the medication will be made available in pharmacies in Ireland from Monday, on foot of a doctor’s prescription.

Teva’s PrEP is expected to be 70% cheaper than the current cost of its branded equivalent. This will still cost those at risk of HIV around €1440 a year.

People are at high risk of contracting HIV when their partners are HIV-positive or when they have unprotected sex.

The medication was first launched in the United States in 2012 and since then has been made available in multiple healthcare jurisdictions across the world.

The HSE has not yet moved to reimburse PrEP and, despite today’s news, the medication will not be made available to patients under the general medical services scheme (GMS) or the drug payment scheme.

The new generic version must be paid for in full by the patient on presentation of a doctor’s prescription.

“We are conscious that the HSE has yet to move to reimburse this medication for those who do not have the resources to pay for it privately. We are engaging with the HSE to progress this issue to ensure that PrEP can be accessed by all,” General manager of Teva, Sandra Gannon said.

Teva is currently writing to all doctors working in the area of sexual health to update them on the availability of PrEP in pharmacies, to ensure they can advise their patients appropriately.

The number of HIV diagnoses in Ireland has increased by 35% since 2011.

512 new HIV diagnoses were made in 2016. A total of 485 people were diagnosed in Ireland in 2015.

The World Health Organisation released guidelines last year recommending that oral PrEP should be offered as an additional prevention choice for people at substantial risk of HIV infection.

Read: HIV diagnosis: ‘I went into a spasm of shock. My mother knew the result just by looking at me’

More: ‘When HIV hit Ireland it had the same devastation it did in San Francisco’

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