NHS flip-flops on PrEP

Last month the NHS announced it was to end consideration of funding PrEP treatment (pre-exposure prophylaxis) as an HIV prevention programme in England.  Today they rowed back from that position following the threat of a legal challenge.

The National AIDS Trust (NAT) decided it had a strong legal case to challenge the NHS England decision. NAT began legal action on 12 April and yesterday the HIV charity received a response from NHS England stating that ‘NHS England will carefully consider its position on commissioning PrEP in light of [NAT’s] representations’.

NHS England will meet next month to decide whether to put PrEP back into the decision-making process from which it had previously been removed. If it goes back into the process there will be a Clinical Priorities Advisory Group (CPAG) meeting in June to decide on what NHS England will commission in 2016/2017, and PrEP will be considered alongside other proposals.

Deborah Gold, Chief Executive, NAT, said: “We welcome this change of mind from NHS England. NHS England had previously told us that it was impossible for them to reconsider their decision.  Faced with legal action, they have now changed their mind. We trust that NHS England, when it re-evaluates its position, will come back with a resounding yes.

“PrEP is one of the most exciting prevention options to emerge since the HIV epidemic began and offers the prospect of real success in combatting this virus. To deny the proper process to decide whether to commission PrEP, when 17 people are being diagnosed with HIV every day, is not only morally wrong but legally wrong also.”