Health & NHS
Make PrEP available from local pharmacies, RPS urges Government
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has urged the Government to make pre-exposure prophylaxis available through community pharmacies across Britain.
In a statement released ahead of World Aids Day on Wednesday, the RPS said that widening access to PrEP by extending provision to pharmacies and GP surgeries would help meet the Government’s ambition to eliminate new HIV infections by 2030, as set out in its HIV Action Plan.
RPS president Claire Anderson said: “There is a clear opportunity to drive down rates of HIV infection by expanding provision of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to community pharmacies and GP practices as part of the Government’s HIV Action Plan.
“Community pharmacies are highly trusted and conveniently located, providing a much wider reach than specialist services can do on their own. Pharmacies see those who may be reluctant or unable to attend other health services, play a vital role in reducing harm, and provide rapid access to health and care.
“This highly effective medicine should be made as easily accessible as possible to those who need it.
“We urge the Government to make PrEP available through community pharmacies as soon as possible.”
PrEP offers almost total protection against HIV when taken as recommended prior to sex or injecting drugs. It comes as a tablet containing tenofovir and emtricitabine, drugs commonly used to treat HIV.
In March 2020 the Government announced that it would provide funding to make PrEP universally available for free from local sexual health clinics. Prior to this it was available to individuals taking part in a three-year impact trial.
In April, Conservative MP for Carshalton & Wallington Elliot Colburn wrote to NHS England urging it to make PrEP available from pharmacies, saying that to meet the target of no new HIV cases by 2030 there “must be access to PrEP in healthcare settings other than just sexual health clinics, as we know particular groups engage with these services less often”.
Those accessing PrEP at present “are disproportionally male and white… this does not reflect all the communities at higher risk of HIV,” said Mr Colburn.
Pharmacy Network News has approached the Department of Health and Social Care for more information.