The NHS has been urged to take quick steps to move forward with the pilot on improving access to HIV drug – pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) via a number of health channels including community pharmacy.
In a recent letter to the NHS chief Sir Simon Stevens, the MP for Carshalton and Wallington, Elliot Colburn, asked for wider access to PrEP immediately to achieve an end to the emergence of new cases of HIV by the end of 2030.
The letter was also signed by the National Pharmacy Association chief executive Mark Lyonette, National Aids Trust boss Deborah Gold, and the Terrence Higgins Trust chief executive Ian Green.
The MP has welcomed the works undertaken by the NHS to make the drug available on the market. Elliot said: “It is our understanding that NHS England has begun initial discussions about access to PrEP in community settings, specifically via community pharmacy. This news is extremely positive to hear.”
But he cautioned: “Currently those accessing PrEP are disproportionality male and white. This does not reflect all the communities at higher risk of HIV.”
PrEP is nearly 100 per cent effective when taken correctly and has played a key role in the recent declining numbers of new HIV transmissions nationally, the letter stated.
“The routine commissioning of PrEP is something that the NHS can rightly be proud of Equally, recent news about the increased funding envelope for PrEP in its second year of routine commissioning, at over £23m, is another positive step forward in ensuring this life changing drug reaches more who could benefit,” the MP said.
He further noted much wider awareness of, and access to, PrEP needs to be ensured, if the UK aims to report zero new HIV cases by 2030.
“A key plank of this must be access to PrEP in health care settings other than just sexual health clinics, as we know particular groups engage with these services less often,” the letter said.
The letter has also urged the NHS to provide an update on its works on the drug immediately. The MP said: “We would welcome an update on this work and any possible piloting or business case development that is being explored.
“As representatives of a London constituency, independent community pharmacy and the HIV sector more broadly, we are supportive of exploring and piloting wider access points to PrEP and are keen to work collaboratively with your teams to take this forward as quickly as possible.”