The announcement was made after the company Gilead made a deal with the Tr*mp administration.
Gilead, the American pharmaceutical giant that own the patent to PrEP drug Truvada, has announced that the drug will be made freely available for 200,000 Americans for 11 years.
Details of the deal with the Tr*mp administration weren’t revealed. However, in a separate announcement, Gilead announced that it would lift the patent ban on the drug’s use, allowing a generic version of the drug to become available next year.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis, more commonly referred to as PrEP, is an anti-retroviral drug taken by HIV-negative people which, if used consistently, can help to dramatically reduce the risk of acquiring the virus.
Gregg Alton, the chief patient officer at Gilead Sciences, said: “We are proud to partner with CDC to dramatically expand access to medication that can help prevent new HIV infections.
“We believe today’s donation, combined with efforts to address the root causes of the epidemic, such as racism, violence against women, stigma, homophobia and transphobia, can play an important role in ending the HIV epidemic in the United States, particularly in parts of the country with the highest burden of disease.”
However, slight concerns were raised toward the motive for doing so, as Gilead Sciences made reference to plans to transition PrEP users onto a different drug, Descovy.
Speaking to the New York Times, Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, said the move was a “noble effort” but didn’t go far enough, as it will only cover “20 percent of the people who need it.”
She said: “Let’s call a spade a spade. The real cost of Truvada is about $60 a year. If you really wanted to cover everybody, you’d cut the price to everyone.
“If I put on my cynical hat, I think this is the way they make sure they grow the market for Descovy. It will promote the idea that Descovy is better — and I’m not sure that’s a dialogue we want to present.”
Peter Staley, a founder of PrEP4ALL also called the announcement “promising but depressing.”
Earlier this year, NHS England announced that it was doubling its trial of PrEP from 13,000 people to 26,000 after gay and bisexual men were turned away.
In a statement, NHS England said: “Through the PrEP trial, over 10,000 people are already receiving access to this important HIV prevention measure,” said John Stewart, Director of Specialised Commissioning at NHS England.
“The trial researchers have submitted a case for increasing trial places and NHS England will play its part in delivering on this recommendation by committing to fund additional places in line with existing funding arrangements.
“This will help ensure the learning from the trial is robust enough to fully inform the planning of a national PrEP programme in partnership with local authorities for the future, as well as protecting more people from HIV right now.”