Scotland approves controversial HIV drug

Amy Schofield 11 April 2017

Scotland has become the first country in the UK to approve the routine use of PrEP, a preventative HIV treatment intended primarily for gay and bisexual men who have unprotected sex.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has approved the routine use of PrEP, which significantly cuts the risk of these groups contracting HIV.

Studies suggest that PrEP can reduce the risk of HIV infection by 90%. The drug has been described as a “game-changer” in the fight against the disease. When used together with safe sex practices, it may help reduce the spread of HIV. However, others claim that it will encourage promiscuity among gay and bisexual men.  

The SMC ruling follows NHS England’s unsuccessful bid to deny funding for the drug, where it argued  that it was not responsible for providing PrEP to patients.

PrEP, marketed under the brand name Truvada, costs around £450 per month. It is estimated that up to 1900 people in Scotland could benefit from the SMC’s decision. 

The Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland said that funding the drug could save the NHS in Scotland £360,000 in treatment costs over a lifetime for every person it prevented from contracting HIV.

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