Scotland first in UK to approve anti-HIV drug

10 Apr 2017


A drug which dramatically reduces the chances of being infected with HIV is to be made available on the NHS in Scotland. 

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) agreed to approve the treatment known as Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for prescription on the NHS in Scotland, making it the first UK nation to do so.

Patients should be able to access NHS funded PrEP within the next month.

Scientists have found that a daily dose of the drug can protect people at risk of contracting the virus. 

Campaigners welcomed the decision, describing it as a "bold step" which could lead to a reduction in the spread of the virus. 

Up to 1,900 people north of the border could benefit from the drug, brand name Truvada, which costs about £450 a month.

The anti-retroviral drug is already licensed for use by people diagnosed with HIV in Scotland. However, the SMC's decision relates to its use on a preventative basis by people who do not have the virus. 

Said Kenneth Gibson:

"This will make a life-changing difference to individuals by protecting them from a lifelong condition. And for every person who would have become HIV positive without PrEP, NHS Scotland will save £360,000 in lifetime treatment costs.

"Of the 5,277 people diagnosed with HIV in Scotland, 166 are living in Ayrshire.

"PrEP is one aspect of a wider HIV prevention strategy and should be used in combination with safe sex practices such as using condoms."

SMC chairman Dr Alan MacDonald added:

""PrEP works by protecting cells in the body and disabling the virus to stop it multiplying - should it enter the body.


"Taking it once a day has been found to reduce the risk of HIV infection by 86%.


"It is currently used in the US, Canada, Australia and France to help protect gay men at the highest risk of contracting HIV."


The decision on Prep was welcomed by a group of charities, including HIV Scotland and the Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland, which campaigned as The Prep4Scotland Coalition. 


In a statement, they said: 


"We applaud this bold step to tackling HIV in Scotland. This is a tremendous opportunity to make a real reduction in the number of new HIV transmissions. Scotland has made history in the fight against HIV"



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