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The NHS spent an absurd amount of money fighting HIV prevention drug PrEP

Meka Beresford January 7, 2017

NHS England spent upwards of £100,000 in the fight against funding the HIV prevention drug, PrEP.

The hefty price tag comes as the health service had to pay both it’s own court fees, as well as those of the National AIDS Trust (NAT) who challenged the NHS in court.

The total cost of the fees that the NHS racked up came to £107,703.29. The NAT is still negotiating the final agreed amount of it’s legal costs, but expects it’s own legal costs will hover around £8000, bringing the total to just over £115,000.

The Terrence Higgins Trust called the fees, which were obtained via a Freedom of Information request by BuzzFeed News, “disappointing” and “unnecessary.”

Ian Green, chief executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, told BuzzFeed News: “It is disappointing that NHS England took PrEP out of its own decision-making processes – and then spent a substantial amount of money fighting their legal responsibility to consider making PrEP available to people at risk of HIV.

“This was unnecessary and the money spent on legal costs could instead have been used to prevent people being infected with HIV.”

During the legal fight to get PrEP funded nationally, the NHS were accused of feeling negative stories to the press in an effort to knock public support.

The National Union of Journalists condemned some media outlets for spreading “out-dated homophobic tropes” in coverage of HIV-preventing PrEP drugs.

HIV charities and healthcare campaigners were angry at the way funding for PrEP was portrayed as a threat and competitor to other treatments.

Health experts said rolling out PrEP in the UK is cost-effective if it leads to even a small reduction in HIV infections, as the lifetime cost of treating one HIV infection can be up to £360,000.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) drug Truvada can reduce people’s chances of being infected with HIV by over 90 percent if taken daily. The pill costs less than £500 per person per year if generic drugs are used.

Since winning the court battle, it has been announced that over 10,000 gay men will be offered a trial of PrEP as early next year after the Court of Appeal ruled the NHS must fund the HIV prevention drug.

More: England, HIV, LGBT, NHS, PrEP, Truvada, UK

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