56 Dean Street, Europe’s largest sexual health clinic, is to introduce a new private prescription service for the HIV prevention drug PrEP, having filled its allocated number of places in the current NHS trial of the same drug. This new service will launch on Monday.
The medical effectiveness of PrEP for preventing HIV transmission is certain, however NHS England’s IMPACT trial was designed to answer questions about the need for the drug, and how to reach the most at-risk populations. With trial places capped, and interest very high, 56 Dean Street (part of Chelsea and Westminster NHS Trust) will add an Additional Private Care process offering PrEP for £55 a month to those who have missed out on a place on the IMPACT trial. This will be the first time the NHS will prescribe generic PrEP (rather than the significantly more costly branded version, Truvada) outside of the IMPACT trial.
Despite a private prescription, those who opt into the new process will access the NHS services that are part of the trial at no extra cost, including advice and regular testing. The service will benefit those who can afford to buy PrEP but are not confident in obtaining the drug online.
Deborah Gold, Chief Executive of NAT (National AIDS Trust) said: “We applaud Dean Street for this decision to do all it can to increase access to PrEP. However the fact that an NHS clinic has needed to create this additional option exposes the inadequacies of the current trial which is evidently not meeting need. Places in the trial are filling far too quickly, especially in cities.
“NHS Trusts should not have to taking these steps to do right by their patients. We call on NHS England, as a matter of urgency, to expand the limits on trial participants so that the need for the drug can be fully monitored (as per the trial’s aims) and, more importantly, so that people can prevent themselves from getting HIV. Further, NHS England must now start working towards routine commissioning of PrEP”