Federal health minister Greg Hunt has announced that the cost of PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is to be drastically reduced from 1 April 2018.
The anti-HIV drug received the green light for PBS listing in February. "PrEP is a medical innovation that will save Australian lives and the decision to list it is one of the most significant advancements in HIV transmission Australia has ever seen," Hunt said at the time.
Described as a “game-changing tool for HIV prevention”, from April PrEP will cost patients $39.50 for a 30 days’ supply; those with a concession card will pay $6.40. As soon as it is listed, any doctor or GP can prescribe PrEP to an Australian resident who holds a Medicare card. GPs will be able to prescribe a three months’ supply at a time — one script with two repeats.
It’s hoped that affordable and equitable access to PrEP will usher in an era of shared responsibility around HIV prevention. “Equitable access to PrEP for HIV-negative people is an important advancement for those already living with HIV. It will help counter stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV,” said Cipri Martinez, president of the National Association of People Living with HIV Australia. “By keeping those at risk of HIV safe, PrEP gives both partners control and confidence. This helps everyone share responsibility for HIV prevention equally.”
- PrEP is highly impressive at preventing HIV transmission with 99 percent effectiveness among MSM
- As a result of the state-funded PrEP trial, new HIV diagnoses have dropped by a third in NSW
- A single averted HIV transmission will save the Australian taxpayer $1m in lifetime treatment and costs
- With regular screenings a prerequisite to accessing the drug, PrEP leads to significantly improved sexual health