Customs Officers Seizing 'Large Amounts' of PrEP

Irish Customs officers are regularly confiscating significant amounts of PrEP which have been ordered online, according to reports

truvada-hand

The medicines in question have been supplied on to the Irish market without marketing authorisations that are required by medicines regulations.

PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. It refers to anti-HIV medication that prevents HIV-negative people from becoming infected with the virus. Truvada is the only medication currently approved for use as PrEP.

PrEP is recommended by the World Health Organisation as a safe and highly effective prevention option for people at significant risk for HIV.

Although Truvada has been approved in Europe for use as PrEP and a doctor can write a prescription for PrEP, a month’s supply of Truvada in Ireland would cost hundreds of euro.

Frustrated by the high price, some in the Irish LGBT+ community have decided to follow the example of PrEP users in the UK, going online to purchase affordable generic versions of the drugs.

The Irish Times reports that the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) has confirmed the seizures of PrEP by customs officers, and reiterated the risks of buying medication online.

“The medicines in question have been supplied on to the Irish market without marketing authorisations that are required by medicines regulations,” said a HPRA spokesperson.

A member of the Gardaí displays some seized drugs (not Truvada)

Additionally, these prescription-only medicines were supplied by mail order. Supply of prescription-only medicines by mail order to the Irish market is prohibited by regulations.”

“The HPRA strongly advises the public not to procure prescription-only medicines from online or other illicit sources.” The HPRA also said that they are investigating websites which provide the pills. The HPRA has offered no specific evidence that any of the seized medication was not authentic and have said that they do not plan to test the seized pills.”

In 2017, a total of eight shipments, containing 630 tablets, have been seized.

The HSE has not yet made Truvada available as PrEP in Ireland. Truvada’s manufacturer, Gilead Sciences, applied in June to the HSE for reimbursement and a Health Technology Assessment is currently underway.

If you wish to find out more about PrEP, click on our handy guide here.

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