Tory MP Mike Freer slams NHS ‘prejudice’ over HIV-preventing PrEP drugs

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The Conservative politician claims NHS England has allowed itself to be ‘stirred up by tabloids’ and ‘put one set of patients up against another’.

Mike Freer has lashed out at health provider NHS England over its repeated refusal to supply HIV-preventing drugs to those most at risk from contracting the virus.

Mr Freer – who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on HIV and Aids – has accused the NHS of shirking its responsibilities to patients.

Tory MP Mike Freer slams NHS ‘prejudice’ over HIV-preventing PrEP drugs

His comments come during the ongoing legal battle over whether the NHS should prescribe preventative drug PrEP, or leave it to local authorities.

NHS England argue that the £400-a-month cost per patient would force it to cut back on other treatments – including a drug for treating children aged two to five with cystic fibrosis.

However, Mr Freer says the health provider has been “stirred up by tabloids” and “proceeded to put one set of patients up against another.”

“They used a hypothetical situation of a child suffering from cystic fibrosis, diagnosed with a terrible disease by no fault of their own, with a gay man who contracted HIV because he could not be responsible enough to use a condom,” he wrote on ConservativesHome.

He said decisions should be “based on clinical effectiveness — not prejudice over life choices”.

“Funding for drugs should only ever be based on clinical evaluation, cost effectiveness and the impact on society more widely.

“Each one of those criteria have been met in my mind, and for this reason NHS England should move in the direction of funding PrEP.”

Mr Freer’s comments come after NHS England faced questions over a statement on HIV-preventing PrEP drugs that fed many of the negative stories on the subject.

The National Union of Journalists said last week that coverage of the legal battle over Pre-exposure Prophylaxis commissioning – which saw NHS England defeated by an HIV charity – fell below expected standards.

The Daily Mail had claimed PrEP drugs are a “promiscuity pill” with a “skewed sense of values”, while Channel 5’s Wright Show led with “Free £20m drugs for gays who won’t use condoms”.