On 21 March, NHS England announced it was pulling the plug on its decision-making process on whether to make PrEP available (an HIV prevention drug, proven to be effective in stopping HIV transmission in almost every case if taken properly). This was after 18 months of hard work which demonstrated the need, efficacy and cost-effectiveness of PrEP from an NHS working group comprising experts from across the HIV sector.
The National AIDS Trust decided it had a strong legal case to challenge this decision with representation from Deighton Pierce Glynn. NAT began legal action on 12 April and yesterday the HIV charity received a response from NHS England stating that ‘NHS England will carefully consider its position on commissioning PrEP in light of [NAT’s] representations’.
NHS England will now meet in May to decide whether to put PrEP back into the decision-making process from which it had previously been removed. If it goes back into the process there will be a Clinical Priorities Advisory Group (CPAG) meeting in June to decide on what NHS England will commission in 2016/2017, and PrEP will be considered alongside other proposals.
Deborah Gold, Chief Executive, NAT, said: “We welcome this change of mind from NHS England. NHS England had previously told us that it was impossible for them to reconsider their decision. Faced with legal action, they have now changed their mind. We trust that NHS England, when it re-evaluates its position, will come back with a resounding yes.
“PrEP is one of the most exciting prevention options to emerge since the HIV epidemic began and offers the prospect of real success in combatting this virus. To deny the proper process to decide whether to commission PrEP, when 17 people are being diagnosed with HIV every day, is not only morally wrong but legally wrong also.”
You can read the letter sent from NAT to NHS England here.