UK High Court Ruling Will Result In More Cost Effective PrEP

The UK High Court followed in the EU's footsteps by overturning Gilead's monopoly in the PrEP market setting a good precedent for the Irish High Court.

ACT UP London protest PrEP access at Gilead office
Image: ACT UP LONDON

On Tuesday, the UK High Court overturned Gilead‘s patent extension on Truvada, the HIV drug also used in PrEP.

This ruling means that unbranded versions of the drug can legally be issued to people.

Deborah Gold, chief executive of NAT (National AIDS Trust) said: “We welcome this court decision, which overturns the patent extension for Truvada (this is the HIV prevention drug used for PrEP).

“The decision will mean that unbranded versions of the drug can be legally prescribed. This represents a huge cost saving to buying a drug that would save public money, even at full price.

“We continue to urge the NHS in England to commission PrEP by April 2019, as the current trial is not reaching everyone at risk, indeed some have acquired HIV after being turned away from clinics whose trial places are full.

“With the generic, unbranded version of the drug available at a fraction of the cost, the pressure increases on NHS England to begin routine commissioning, and make PrEP available to all who need it, urgently.”

This ruling is positive news for advocates for fair access to medicines and is especially encouraging to PrEP campaigners in Ireland, where Gilead Sciences is currently pursuing litigation before the High Court to enforce its SPC in Ireland and force generic versions of Truvada off the market.

Last November, the High Court rejected Gilead’s application for an injunction preventing generic companies from entering the market, and generic versions of Truvada have been available for private purchase in community pharmacies since last December. In addition, some clinics providing antiretroviral medication for HIV treatment are now dispensing generic Truvada—a potential cost-savings of many thousands of Euro each month.

The HSE does not currently provide PrEP, so users must pay the full cost of the medication themselves. Two generic products are currently available through community pharmacies, retailing for between €60 and €100 for a month’s supply. Gilead’s Truvada is priced at more than €400 for a month’s supply.

Last week, members of ACT UP Dublin met with the Minister for Health Simon Harris where he committed to ensuring the roll-out of a PrEP programme in 2019 as he launched a new health website sexualwellbeing.ie.

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