Managing community concerns about ARV supply

Managing community concerns about ARV supply

The importance of consistent HIV health sector messaging

The current COVID-19 crisis has raised concerns about HIV treatment supply in Australia. Despite continued assurances that supply is not, nor is likely to be compromised, rumours to the contrary persist.

This speculation has the potential to raise anxiety levels and cause consumer panic. Maintaining message consistency across the HIV health workforce is vitally important at this time.

When patients or customers register concern about the supply of HIV medications, please reassure them with the following messages:

  1. The pharmaceutical companies that supply antiretrovirals (ARVs) in Australia have given assurances that there is no shortage. There are enough HIV treatments in the country right now to meet the needs of people with HIV for many months.
  2. Stock-outs or delays in re-stocking ARVs at a local pharmacy does not mean that national supply is limited.
  3. In the unlikely event of an impending shortage of a particular ARV, the TGA would add it to this publicly available list and then take action to ensure ongoing access for people living with HIV taking that medication. NB: There are no ARVs currently on this TGA list.
  4. It is important to keep taking HIV treatments as prescribed. People with HIV should not skip doses or share medication with friends who are worried about their own supply.
  5. Prescriptions for ARVs are currently limited to two months’ supply at a time and this is standard for everyone. To minimise trips to the pharmacy, arrangements are in place so people living with HIV can have their medications posted to them. For more information about this issue please talk with your pharmacist.

NAPWHA has issued this communication with Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) and Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) on 3 April 2020.

Information of Truvada and Atripla delisting

NAPWHA and AFAO wish to update our HIV community/ies and organisational members that from 1 April 2020 Truvada ® for HIV treatment and for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) will no longer be available through the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

There are alternatives to Truvada ® for PrEP in Australia. Community members eligible for PrEP can access generic versions of Truvada supplied by Apotex, Mylan and Lupin Generic Health. The drugs manufactured by these three suppliers contain the same active ingredients as Truvada.

In addition, from October 2020 Atripla ® will be delisted. A generic equivalent of Atripla has been approved by the PBS for community members who wish to continue using Atripla.

We encourage you to talk to your prescribing doctor if you want more information about these changes.

For more information, visit the following websites:

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to delist Stribild® and Eviplera® from 1 March 2020

Eviplera and Stribild illustration

NAPWHA wish to update our HIV community/ies and organisational members that from 1 March 2020 the Single Tablet Regimen (STR) HIV treatments Eviplera ® (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, emtricitabine and rilpivirine) and Stribild ® (cobicistat, elvitegravir, emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate) will no longer be available via the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

While transition to newer medicines may be a common part of a drug life cycle, any change requires time for adjustment. Therefore, if you are someone (or working with persons) who will be affected with this change, we strongly encourage you to start consulting with your healthcare professional (prescribing S100 physician or treatment officer) to assist in transitioning to an alternative therapy, well before the delisting comes into effect on 1 March 2020.

This delisting may affect pregnant women and women wishing to conceive, individuals who are already tolerating these regimens and wish to continue them, and individuals who may switch to these regimens for other reasons.

For those who have a medical need for a specific treatment and cannot switch to or be initiated on an alternative PBS-reimbursed regimen, it may be possible for your healthcare professional to apply to Gilead (the pharmaceutical company of these delisted treatment) for compassionate access consideration.

NAPWHA will continue to provide any further information in the coming months as information is released from Gilead Science, and from ASHM (who as the national accreditation CPD provider for HIV S100 Community Prescribing in Australia provides communiques on behalf of their ARV Guideline Committee).

For further NAPWHA inquiries contact Saysana Sirimanotham, Communication and Community Engagement: