To the surprise of nobody, there’s major problems with the Trump administration’s plan to give free access to PrEP
When news broke this week that the Trump administration was planning to provide free PrEP to 200,000 uninsured people, many were overjoyed.
The new federal scheme – called ‘Ready, Set, PrEP’ – will make the HIV-preventing drug available at no cost to 200,000 at risk people who do not have health insurance.
But it’s not all good news. There are a number of issues with the plans that could see the cost rack up for those on the programme.
James Krellenstein, founder of PrEP4All Collaboration, told The New York Times that the federal government is “poised to repeat the errors of Gilead’s own medication assistance programme.”
According to Krellenstein, uninsured people will receive PrEP for free under the plans – but they will receive no financial assistance for medical exams and lab tests needed to get and renew the prescription. He said that these costs can amount to $1,000 per year.
The federal government will pay Gilead $200 per bottle of PrEP under the plans.
Furthermore, the federal government is also going to find itself out of pocket as it has agreed to pay Gilead – the pharmaceutical company that makes PrEP – $200 per bottle. Each bottle contains just 30 pills. US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the $200 per bottle will help the company to cover the cost of moving the free drugs from factories to pharmacies and then to patients. From March 30 onwards, the government will be seeking cheaper means of getting the drugs to those in need.
Dr Rochelle P. Walensky, leader of a team at Massachusetts General Hospital that has analysed the cost of HIV plans, told The New York Times that she was “having a hard time understanding why the government is paying $200 a month per bottle to dispense these drugs.”
Ready, Set, PrEP is a historic expansion of access to HIV prevention medication and a major step forward in president Trump’s plan to end the HIV epidemic in America.
PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis and, when taken daily, is considered to be 99 percent effective at preventing people from contracting HIV.
Under the new ‘Ready, Set, PrEP’ programme, people will be able to obtain the medication at no cost from CVS Health, Walgreens, and Rite Aid pharmacies.
Announcement of new plan came just days after Donald Trump failed to mention LGBT+ people in his World AIDS Day proclamation.
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In a press release, Azar said: “Ready, Set, PrEP is a historic expansion of access to HIV prevention medication and a major step forward in president Trump’s plan to end the HIV epidemic in America.
“Thanks to Ready, Set, PrEP, thousands of Americans who are at risk for HIV will now be able to protect themselves and their communities.
“The Trump administration recognises the vital role of prevention in ending the HIV epidemic in America, and connecting members of vulnerable communities to prevention services and medication is an important part of the president’s initiative.”
The announcement comes just days after President Trump failed to mention LGBT+ people in his World AIDS Day proclamation.
He wrote: “We pause to solemnly remember those worldwide who have lost their lives to HIV and AIDS-related illnesses.
“As we mourn this tragic loss of life, we acknowledge the remarkable advancements in medical care, treatment, acceptance, and understanding surrounding the virus.”
According to the US government’s own 2017 statistics, there are around 1.1million people living with HIV in the USA, and 66 percent of these are gay and bisexual men.