Q and A

Question

How much do HIV drugs cost in the UK?

Hi, hope much do HIV meds cost in the UK. Does this mean I am just given the cheapest drugs?

Answer

Hi

Thanks for your question.

Drug pricing in the UK is complicated because the prices paid by the NHS are never made public. Also, different regions in the UK negotiate different prices with different companies.

This can make the actual price much lower than the price listed in the British National Formulary (BNF).

The graphic in Table 1 shows the relative costs for commonly used combinations when starting ART. This is from the Midlands and East of England region.

Cost is never the most important factor for deciding treatment. Even the most expensive combinations are very cost effective. Every doctor can prescribe every HIV drug when this is the best treatment for a particular patient.

Cost becomes important when several options are appropriate for an individual. In this case, NHS prescribing is based on using the least expensive one first.

If someone has problems with side effects, switching to an alternative drug should always be easy in the UK.

Similar tables are available for switching treatment. These can be seen in this detailed document from the same NHS region.

Source: Midlands & East Region: Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) Prescribing Implementation Guidance for Adult and Adolescent Patients Starting and Switching Treatment 2021-2022. (July 2021 update). This replaces all previous versions. Full document.

This answer has a lot more details about cost and access:
https://i-base.info/qa/14152

Note: This graphic in this answer was updated in August 2021 from a question posted in Feb 2018.

18 comments

  1. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Ronald,

    ARVs are free in the UK as long has you have an address, if this is home, that won’t be an issue. The fixed dose combination that you’re taking may not be available in the UK as the following explains: https://i-base.info/guides/14970 This is something that you’d need to discuss with your consultant. It’s very unlikely that you’ll be given a combination with efavirenz, you may just need to take more than 1 pill.

  2. Ronald

    I was recently started on tenofovir+lamivudine+dolutegravir in South Africa (WHO recommended first line treatment in middle income countries) and will be returning home to the UK soon. I’m currently undetectable with no side effects. Will the NHS give me the same treatment for free or make me pay for it? I’m reluctant to switch to a different combination especially one containing efavirenz.

  3. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Faisal,

    Thanks for your story. I’m going to contact you by your personal email.

    Best wishes, Roy

  4. Faisal

    Hello everyone I will tell you my story.
    I make blood test 5 years ago and it’s a positive I was in United States on that time and I take my triumeq until new. I’ll back to my country kuwait on February 2020 and I could not find anyone to dispense my medicine in my country and hard to travel to other country because Corona Virus all airport close and I can’t find it on online .. please help me . Thank you

  5. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Elisha,

    Do you mean the person who is called the Berlin patient? However, this was not a cure for HIV/AIDS. This patient was treated for blood cancer and was critically ill. He had a stem cell transplant. The survival rate for stem cell transplants is not high. So this wouldn’t be recommended for people who are HIV positive only.

    But the side effect of the cancer treatment is that it cured him of HIV. Please see this link http://i-base.info/htb/21336

  6. Elisha

    why german have aids cure not like ARVs (to those who are living with hiv)

  7. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Paula,

    If you have an address in the UK, then yes ARVs are free. Of course if you just come here on holiday then no they may not be given to you for free. If you’ve been denied HIV meds or asked to pay for them and you have an address in the UK, do please tell us about it.

  8. Paula

    That really is untrue if you come to the UK you get it free

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