To start the week, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill providing pharmacists the authority to dispense Truvada and other HIV prevention drugs to patients without a doctor’s prescription.
The new California bill will make it possible for pharmacists to dispense PrEP and PEP drugs.
PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) can play important roles in preventing HIV infection among patients potentially exposed to it. Patients in California will no longer require a doctor’s prescription to obtain these HIV prevention drugs. Instead, they can purchase them over the counter from their pharmacists.
This new measure builds on a 2015 California law that allowed female patients to be able to obtain a birth control prescription directly from their pharmacists, without the need for a physician’s involvement.
The goal of the HIV prevention drugs bill is to make it easier and more accessible to protect oneself.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, using PrEP daily can decrease the risk of contracting HIV through sex by about 99 percent. On the other hand, PEP was developed for use in emergency situations following potential HIV exposure. It is meant to be started within 72 hours of exposure, said the CDC.
By legalizing the over-the-counter purchase of these medications from pharmacists, it also makes it possible for patients to be able to use their benefits to obtain these medications without having to obtain prior authorization. This is particularly vital to making sure patients who need PEP will be able to receive their medications within that initial 72 hour window of time.
“We were seeing people having insurance plans that had prior authorization requirements that were taking 72 hours to process,” explained Courtney Mulhern-Pearson at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation as quoted in an NPR.org article.
“Recent breakthroughs in the prevention and treatment of HIV can save lives,” said Newsom in a statement about the new HIV prevention drugs bill. “All Californians deserve access to PrEP and PEP, two treatments that have transformed our fight against HIV and AIDS. I applaud the Legislature for taking action to expand access to these treatments and getting us closer to ending HIV and AIDS for good.”