For those reading this who may not know, PrEP is a daily dose of the HIV anti-retro-viral drug Truvada taken by someone who is HIV negative. It has been proven to stop HIV infections by around 90%.
The drug maker is Gilead, who were trying to get it listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) where it's subsidised by the gov and made accessible to all Australians.
However Gilead put the price of the drug so high that the gov balked at the price ($700 a month).
Gilead says it will make another application for the PBS listing in the future.
Health advocates say Gilead attempted to restrict subsidised access to Truvada – used in the HIV prevention regime pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) – so it could continue to charge an exorbitant price.
The details of Gilead’s submission are not publicly available, but HIV advocates believe the company asked the government to subsidise the full retail price of the drug, which sells for around $700 a month.
They say the company also wanted to restrict access to only people with a higher risk of contracting HIV, but HIV advocates and the Department of Health both say these restrictions were unacceptable.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health said Gilead’s proposed cost for the drug was “far too high”. “[Gilead’s] attempt to limit PBS subsidy of Truvada to a smaller, high-risk subset of the whole ‘at risk’ population was not feasible and would not be acceptable to prescribers or consumers,” the spokesperson said.
President of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations Dr Bridget Haire told BuzzFeed News that in attempting to protect its profit margins, Gilead had failed to protect the Australians who are most at risk of contracting HIV.
“We know that you can buy generic Truvada equivalents over the internet for as low as $55 or $60 a month,” she said. “It’s pretty hard to justify charging over $700 a month for the same pill.
“The case that should have been put to the PBAC [Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Scheme] should have been trying to get access to PrEP for all of the Australians who are going to benefit from it at a price that’s going to be affordable for the country.” Buzzfeed