WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Tuesday, the Trump administration announced
that it’s launching a new federal program to help thousands of uninsured Americans
access prEP, the life-saving HIV prevention drug, at zero cost.
“It’s really a historic day. Quite Frankly, it’s
unprecedented,” Alex Azar, Health and Human Services Secretary said. “This
is such a remarkable program. We have negotiated for this product to be free — free!”
Azar says that without insurance, daily doses of prEP can cost up
to $2,000 dollars per month.
Starting in March, Walgreens, Rite Aid and CVS pharmacies will
distribute the drug in every state.
Azar says there’s only three requirements.
“Individuals who do not have insurance, do not have HIV and
get a prescription from a doctor,” Azar said.
With U.S. statistics showing nearly 40,000 new HIV cases each year,
Azar says prevention medicine is key in ending the HIV epidemic over
the next ten years.
“PrEP is highly effective preventive intervention,” Amy Killelea, senior director of Health Systems and Policy at the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS, said.
Killelea says access to drugs will help high risk populations in
rural and metropolitan areas.
“The 1.1 million people in this country who are indicated for
prEP, who are eligible for prEP — only 18 percent of that number is utilizing
prEP.” Killelea said.
Drug manufacturer Gilead Sciences make the prEP and is donating
HHS calculates that it’s enough supply to help 200,000 people each
year for the next decade.
While Gilead is also being sued by the federal government for
patent infringement over prEP, Azar says the two issues are unrelated.