MP calls for PrEP manufacturer to take action on World AIDS Day

PinkNews logo on pink background with rainbow corners.

SNP MP Stewart McDonald has called on Gilead UK to submit Truvada for approval to the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC).

Truvada which is used as a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) can significantly reduce a user’s risk of contracting HIV.

MP calls for PrEP manufacturer to take action on World AIDS Day

The SMC is responsible for approving all drugs available on the NHS in Scotland and the Glasgow South MP has called for the company to make a submission, so it can form part of the country’s HIV prevention strategy.

Mr McDonald cited a report in his letter to UK and Ireland General Manager of Gilead, Stelios Karagiannoglou, which attracted over 16,000 responses.

In this, the SNP MP said that almost 80 percent of respondents felt PrEP should be given as part of a “comprehensive prevention package”.

“World AIDS Day is an important reminder that, far from being a thing of the past, HIV is one of the fastest-growing serious health conditions in the UK,” said Mr McDonald.

“While the outlook for people diagnosed with HIV is very different than it used to be, and while those diagnosed early can live long and healthy lives, we must continue to do everything we can to reduce the spread of HIV as well as tackling the stigma.

“Trials have shown that the use of Truvada as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is very successful in reducing the risk of transmission for those at high risk of getting HIV.

“There can be no room for complacency, so it is vital that Gilead UK make a submission to the Scottish Medicines Consortium quickly, and at a fair price, so that the use of PrEP can be considered as a part of Scotland’s HIV prevention strategy.”

UPDATE: Since the publication of this article, Gilead contacted PinkNews with the following response.

A spokeswoman for Gilead said: “Gilead initiated discussions with the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) about Truvada for PrEP prior to the marketing authorisation in August, to ensure our submission to SMC was both timely and comprehensive.

“We confirm that we have now submitted to the SMC for Truvada for PrEP and expect the review to follow normal SMC timelines.”

Read the letter below

I am writing to you regarding the current status of Gilead UK’s submission to the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) for the drug Truvada to be used as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) in HIV infection.

As you will be aware, the Scottish Government’s Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, Rose Marie Parr, has previously written to you requesting that you make a submission, at a fair price, so its routine use in Scotland can be considered as quickly as possible.

I am aware that the SMC is currently awaiting a submission from Gilead; however, given the recent published reports into the effectiveness of PrEP, I would urge you to put forward your submission as quickly as possible. One of the reports focused on Europe-wide attitudes towards PrEP, which was coordinated by a number of influential HIV/AIDS charities in Europe and attracted around 16,000 responses.

Within the report, it found that almost 80% of respondents felt PrEP should be delivered as part of a comprehensive prevention package, which would be in the form of regular HIV testing, STI testing and treatment, peer support. 40% of respondents felt PrEP should be provided free of charge to all those who require it, and 41% felt it should be covered at least in part by health insurance.

The study proves that a huge number of people throughout Europe feel PrEP should be made available as part of individual countries wider HIV prevention strategy.

The Scottish National Party – and the Scottish Government – have made prevention of HIV infection a key public health priority and we understand that there is absolutely no room for complacency on such communicable diseases. Indeed, the Scottish Government took part in a Short Life Working Group on PrEP, which recommended that people at the highest risk of HIV are provided with the option of pre-exposure prophylaxis to protect them from becoming HIV positive.
HIV diagnoses in Scotland have continued at an average rate of 359 per year for the past five years and support for PrEP in Scotland has backing from across the political and social spectrum because society knows we need a game-changer and PrEP is just that.

Therefore, I would urge you today – World Aids Day – to commit to submitting an application to the SMC in order for Scotland to get on and ensure steps are being taken to reduce the prevalence of HIV across Scotland.

Watch Nicola Sturgeon’s message below