Feds Roll Out Free Rx To Prevent HIV

Elvert Barnes, CC BY-SA 2.0

Dec. 3, 2019 – The New York Times – With donated drugs and services provided by major pharmacy chains, 200,000 uninsured Americans will gain access to H.I.V.-preventive medicines at no cost, the Trump administration announced on Tuesday.

The announcement, by Alex M. Azar II, the health and human services secretary, essentially explained how the government plans to distribute the drugs for pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, that were promised in May by the drugmaker Gilead Sciences.

PrEP describes a strategy of preventing infection with H.I.V. by taking a single pill a day, either Truvada or Descovy. Both are made by Gilead. The strategy is 99 percent effective at preventing infection, studies have shown, and is a mainstay of the administration’s campaign to end the H.I.V. epidemic.

Some American cities with high H.I.V. rates, such as San Francisco, already have programs that pay the costs of PrEP for the uninsured. Gilead itself offers the drug at no cost to those who cannot afford it, or picks up insurance co-pays for patients who qualify.

But the new program — called Ready, Set, PrEP — marks the first time the federal government is supplying PrEP to patients not enrolled in Medicaid, the Veterans Health Administration or any other federal health program.

Under the new program, any patient who lacks health insurance, has had a recent negative H.I.V. test and has a prescription for PrEP — presumably obtained from a doctor — can call 855-447-8410 or sign onto a new government website, getyourprep.com, to apply for free H.I.V.-prevention drugs.

They can also apply in person, Mr. Azar said, through a participating health care provider, such as a community clinic.

Until March 30, the government will pay Gilead $200 per bottle — each bottle of Truvada contains 30 pills — to cover the cost of moving donated drugs from factories through the supply chain to patients, Mr. Azar said. Read more.