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Media Release - PBAC delays listing of PrEP


PBAC delays listing of PrEP

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) today deferred its decision to recommend Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). PBAC is the key committee of experts advising the government on which drugs to subsidise through the PBS, and was responding to an application brought by two drug companies: Gilead and Mylan Sciences.

PrEP has been proven to be highly effective as an HIV prevention tool in clinical trials, and has the potential to break the cycle of HIV transmission in Australia. PrEP consists of a regular and sustained course of anti-retroviral medication taken pre-emptively, to block a transmission occurring when a person is exposed to HIV infection. It has shown to be effective in 99% of cases.

PrEP is not currently available on the PBS, costing people hundreds of dollars per prescription, or forcing them to import the drug from overseas. Were PrEP to be included, the cost would decrease dramatically, with the PBS ensuring that consumers pay no more than $37.70 per script of approved pharmaceuticals.

NTAHC, along with HIV organisations across the country, is advocating for the PBS listing of PrEP to occur as soon as possible, to avoid many of the 1 100 HIV diagnoses that occur each year in Australia.

“At present, there are an estimated 31 000 people at high risk of contracting HIV in Australia” said Kerrie Jordan, Executive Director of NTAHC, “The inclusion of PrEP on the PBS would be of great benefit to at-risk groups, and to the wider community, with evidence demonstrating that, for every 13 people on PrEP, one HIV diagnosis is averted”.

“While we appreciate the necessity to carefully consider new treatments for inclusion on the PBS”, continued Ms Jordan, “It’s important to remember that HIV transmission will continue as normal while the determination is being made. In short: this deferral may result in people needlessly contracting HIV. NTAHC urges priority be given to timely negotiations between Gilead, Mylan and PBAC to ensure a determination is quickly made to list PrEP on the PBS”.

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