London clinic to prescribe generic PrEP privately at £55 for 30 tablets
Simon Collins, HIV i-Base
On 10 February 2018, the sexual health clinic at 56 Dean Street in Soho launched a new programme that will provide generic tenofovir DF/emtricitabine, the dual pill that protects against HIV.
This will use private prescriptions in a way that will still let people access free NHS monitoring. The initial price is slightly more than the cheapest online supplier – approximately £55 compared to £35 for 30 tablets. Although online suppliers provide discounts for buying in bulk, sometimes buying PrEP online includes additional import taxes. The Dean Street price might also be reduced in the future. The price for the patent version is approximately £400.
Buying generic PrEP online is safe and legal for individuals, but clinics in England have, until now, not been able to provide private prescriptions for the generic formulations. This challenges the situation that allows NHS clinics in Scotland to prescribe generic PrEP free to their patients. Until now, drug commissioning services in England have been waiting for a decision on patent rights currently waiting in the European courts.
People will still have to make routine appointments for HIV testing and other monitoring for PrEP, but they will be able to opt in to private prescription for generic PrEP.
This programme is also an attempt to manage the rapid enrolment in the ongoing PrEP IMPACT study. Launched in September 2017, the 56 Dean Street clinic was fully enrolled by November.
Even at sites where places are still available, the study has already recruited more than half of the original 10,000 allocation.
Although perhaps ten thousand people in London are believed to be buying generic PrEP online – mainly gay and bisexual men – exact figures are not available.
It is unclear whether Gilead Sciences will challenge this new clinic programme.