'Game-changing' preventative HIV drug PrEP is a treatment which NHS England does have the legal power to commission, according to a High Court decision reached today.
This court ruling upheld a previous one made in August, when The National AIDS Trust charity won a case which challenged NHS England's previous decision not to routinely fund this treatment.
NHS England had previously stated that provision of this drug falls under the responsibility of local authorities.
Commenting to The Guardian following this new court ruling, Deborah Gold, Chief Executive of The National AIDS Trust said: "We look forward to what we hope will be a balanced and evidence-based decision on PrEP by NHS England, as well the opportunity to work alongside NHS England collaboratively for the benefit of people living with and at risk of HIV."
What is PrEP?
Truvada® also known as PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a combination of highly active antiviral drugs tenofovir and emtricitabine cut the risk of contracting HIV by 86% in a study last year of over 500 men at high risk. (1)
Within a year in this study, 19 men out of 270 became HIV- positive, compared to three in the PrEP group.
"Extraordinary progress has been made in the treatment of HIV - for people diagnosed with HIV at the age of 20, life expectancy increased from 36 to 52 years over just half a decade from 2000-2 to 2006-7," says Dr Sarah Jarvis, in a blog article written after the August court ruling was announced.
"Many patients with HIV live full and productive lives - but it is still an incurable, lifelong condition which needs lifelong treatment," Dr Jarvis continued.
NHS England now says it will "formally consider" whether to fund PrEP.