THE British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) has welcomed today’s decision from the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) to approve pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for use within the NHS in Scotland.
Emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil (Truvada) helps prevent sexually transmitted HIV-1 infection in adults who are at high risk of being infected. PrEP is one aspect of an HIV-prevention strategy and should be used in combination with safer sex practices such as using condoms. It can be taken daily or before sex to reduce the risk of acquiring HIV.
The decision was announced following an application made to the SMC in December 2016 from a manufacturer of PrEP, and incorporates patient group representations that were submitted in February 2017.
The SMC noted in making its decision that patient groups had highlighted that current prevention methods had not managed to reduce the spread of HIV in Scotland over the last 10 years.
Commenting on the announcement, Dr Elizabeth Carlin, President of BASHH said: “BASHH are delighted at the decision reached today by the SMC to make PrEP available within the NHS in Scotland.
“PrEP has rightly been described as a game changer and has been shown to reduce the risk of acquiring HIV infection by 86%. It is cost-effective for those at the highest risk and is one of the best evidence-based tools for reducing onward HIV transmission.
“As a next step we urge that treatment is made available to the people that need it as quickly as possible, both in Scotland and ultimately across the whole United Kingdom.”
Other treatments accepted by the SMC this month for routine use in NHS Scotland include:
Trastuzumab emtansine (Kadcyla) — used to treat an aggressive, advanced type of breast cancer known as HER2 positive metastatic breast cancer.
Ibrutinib (Imbruvica) — chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) in patients with disease that has relapsed after previous therapy.
Daclizumab (Zinbryta) — severe or relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS).
Ixekizumab (Taltz) — treatment of plaque psoriasis, an inflammatory skin condition which causes red scaly patches (known as plaques) on the skin.
Dr Alan MacDonald, chairman of the SMC, said: “I am pleased we were able to accept these new medicines for routine use in NHSScotland.
“From the valuable testimonies given by patient groups and clinicians at our PACE [Patient and Clinician Engagement] meeting, we know that trastuzumab emtansine will be welcomed by patients and their families for the treatment of breast cancer. We were able to accept trastuzumab emtansine on resubmission because the company offered an improved Patient Access Scheme (PAS), a confidential discount that improves the cost effectiveness of a medicine.
“Ibrutinib provides a valuable new treatment option for those suffering from CLL, while daclizumab for MS may help improve patients’ quality of life.
“Emtricitabine/tenofovir disproxil PrEP, when used together with safer sex practices may help to reduce the spread of HIV, which is an ongoing priority for the Scottish Government.
“Ixekizumab offers another treatment option to those patients who have not responded to previous therapies.”