HIV PREVENTION PILL APPROVED IN AUSTRALIA

TRUVADA, which is used as a form of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV, has been approved in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

Announced today, Truvada has been listed for prevention purposes on the Register of Therapeutic Goods.

For most local gay men on PrEP, the most viable way of sourcing the pill is to order it online from overseas, however this costs upwards of $100 per script and is a time-consuming process.

Now that the pill has been approved by the TGA, doctors will be far more inclined to prescribe it, however this won’t affect its cost.

For it to be cheap, Truvada will now need to be placed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), which will bring it down to around $38.80 per script.

Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) chief executive Simon Ruth said over the coming months VAC will be continuing its work with other community organisations and advocates to ensure PrEP is listed on the PBS.

“This has been a long road, but it’s brought out the best in our community,” he said.

“The passion and dedication groups like PrEP’d for Change and PrEPaccessNOW have shown in shaping this conversation has played a huge role in getting us to where we are now.”

ACON president Justin Koonin said he’s excited to continue to work to ensure all gay men, including gay trans men, can access PrEP.

“Today’s announcement from the TGA is truly very important and we are thrilled that this important milestone has been achieved,” he said.

“PrEP works and alongside high HIV testing rates among gay men, strong treatment uptake among people with HIV and the continuing high rates of condom use, we have the tools to end transmission by 2020.”

Queensland AIDS Council executive director Michael Scott said the TGA approval sends an important message.

“In registering Truvada, the TGA has confirmed that PrEP is a safe and effective way of preventing HIV transmission through sex… it confirms what science and our community has held for a long time now,” he said.

Recently, PrEP trials in VictoriaNew South Wales, and Queensland were expanded to give more men access to the drug.

A Federal Department of Health spokeswoman had previously told the Star Observer the TGA would make a decision in relation to the approval of PrEP in May.