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Scotland first in UK to approve anti-HIV drug

Monday, April 10, 2017


Scotland first in UK to approve anti-HIV drug 

Today (Monday 10th April) Scotland becomes the first of the UK nations to approve the provision of PrEP (Pre Exposure Prophylaxis) by the NHS to prevent HIV.

Following a rigorous process the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) today announced that PrEP, the HIV prevention drug, has been deemed a cost-effective treatment to prevent the transmission of HIV and will be made available on the NHS in Scotland.

It has been proven in multiple studies that PrEP works to prevent new HIV infections.

The PrEP4Scotland Coalition (HIV Scotland, Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland, Waverley Care, and NAT (National AIDS Trust)) welcomes the announcement by the SMC approving PrEP on the NHS in Scotland for those who need it. The Coalition expressed, “We applaud the SMC for taking this bold step to tackling HIV in Scotland. PrEP provides opportunities to reinvigorate how people at higher risk of HIV exposure engage with testing and prevention opportunities, and it is a vital opportunity to make a real reduction in the number of new HIV transmissions.”

“All NHS Boards in Scotland need to now follow the SMC’s advice and ensure they’re making PrEP available to those who need it, so that no-one at risk is left behind.”

To get to this stage hundreds of community members across Scotland have contacted coalition members, attended information events, contributed to consultations, appealed to clinics, and spread the word on PrEP. This outcome was only made possible by these collaborations and shows what progress can be made when professionals and the community join together to learn from each other and find solutions.

George Valiotis, CEO of HIV Scotland said, “HIV Scotland welcomes this great decision that we have spent years campaigning for as an essential addition to Scotland’s HIV prevention approach. In 2016 HIV Scotland published a PrEP good practice guide, and administered Scotland’s expert group which produced prescribing criteria, cost assessments, and mapped information and training needs of workers and the community.”

Robert McKay, National Director for Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland, said: “Today, Scotland has made history in the fight against the HIV epidemic. PrEP can now be used as a vital tool - alongside condom use, regular testing and early treatment - to help bring an end to HIV transmission in Scotland.  Not only will this make a life-changing difference to individuals by protecting them from a lifelong and stigmatised condition, but for every person who would have become HIV positive without PrEP, NHS Scotland will save £360,000 in lifetime treatment costs.”

Deborah Gold, Chief Executive at NAT, said: “NAT is delighted at the announcement that PrEP will be made available throughout Scotland within a matter of weeks. This game-changing prevention tool has the potential to massively reduce HIV rates and turn Scotland into a model internationally of how to do HIV prevention well. The speed and decisiveness of the Scottish process contrasts starkly with delays in the other three UK nations.”

Grant Sugden, Chief Executive of Waverley Care, said: “This is a ground-breaking decision that has the potential to reduce new HIV infections and also improve the quality of life of at-risk communities in Scotland. HIV still looms large over the lives of many gay and bisexual men, with damaging consequences for their relationships, and their physical and emotional health. PrEP can play a role in addressing this, helping to rebuild confidence and self-esteem, and allowing men to lead healthier, happier lives.”

In December 2016 the drug’s manufacturers applied to the SMC to make Truvada, which is already used to treat HIV, available on the NHS in Scotland as a prevention treatment. Following the submission, the coalition coordinated a Patient Group Submission to make sure that the voices of people who would benefit most from access to PrEP were represented.

More than 350 people responded to the consultation survey distributed by coalition members, with the vast majority in favour of making PrEP available.
Gordon Garioch, 53, from Aberdeen, is already taking a generic version of PrEP which he buys online. For him the news that it will be available on the NHS will make a real difference to his life.

“For me PrEP is a reassurance – I used to worry all the time. I have always been cautious, but some of my friends have been cautious and got HIV. Taking PrEP has allowed me to take control of my sexual health, and therefore both my physical and mental health.

“As well, I feel by taking PrEP I am being responsible to myself, but I am also being responsible to my sexual partners.”

Notes to editors

About HIV Scotland

HIV Scotland is Scotland’s HIV policy charity, and seeks to improve the involvement of people living with or affected by HIV to develop policy and raise awareness among decision makers about issues related to HIV.

About Waverley Care

Waverley Care is the leading Scottish charity providing care and support to people living with HIV and Hepatitis C. Across Scotland, we are challenging stigma, reducing new HIV and Hepatitis C infections, encouraging people to get tested and providing much needed support to people living with and affected by these conditions.

About Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland

Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland is part of the UK’s largest and leading HIV and sexual health charity with providing services for people living with HIV and striving to promote good sexual health to everyone.

About NAT

NAT (National AIDS Trust) is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to transforming society’s response to HIV. We provide fresh thinking, expertise and practical resources. We champion the rights of people living with HIV and campaign for change.

Shaping attitudes. Challenging injustice. Changing lives.

About PrEP

  • Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis  (PrEP) is anti-HIV medication taken by people who are HIV negative to lower their risk of acquiring HIV infection. It usually involves an HIV negative person taking drugs on a daily basis. The drug that the Scottish Medicines Consortium has approved for use as PrEP is Truvada.
  • HIV Scotland lobbied for and administered the Scottish Short Life Working Group on PrEP which consisted of expert scientists, doctors, pharmacists, researchers, policy analysts, and others health care specialists who published a report recommending its use in Scotland. 
  • HIV Scotland, Waverley Care, Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland and NAT submitted a joint ‘Patient Group Submission’ to the Scottish Medicines Consortium with the input from over 350 community members about what difference PrEP can make to their life, and what challenges will need to be addressed.
  • Multiple studies around the world have shown PrEP to be highly effective in reducing the risk of contracting HIV. The results of the PROUD trial in England, released in 2015, prove that PrEP works and that concerns about it not working in a real world setting, were unfounded. Read more about the trial here:

Interviews are available with George Valiotis, CEO of HIV Scotland and with Gordon Garioch. 

For more information and to arrange interview please contact Liam Beattie, Policy and Political Officer, or 0131 5583 713.

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