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California Becomes First State to Make HIV Prevention Medication Accessible Without a Prescription

Jaime Rosenberg
Once the bill goes into effect in January 2020, pharmacists will be able to provide pre-exposure prophylaxis for at least a 30-day supply and up to a 60-day supply and a complete course of post-exposure prophylaxis without a prescription.
 
A new law will make California the first to allow people in the state to access HIV prevention medication without a prescription, opening up the doors to more access to the medications.

Once the bill, SB 159, goes into effect in January 2020, pharmacists will be able to provide pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for at least a 30-day supply and up to a 60-day supply and a complete course of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) without a prescription.

The bill, signed by the state’s Democratic governor Gavin Newsom on Monday, states, “The bill would authorize a pharmacist to furnish preexposure prophylaxis and postexposure prophylaxis in specified amounts and would require a pharmacist to furnish those drugs if certain conditions are met, including that the pharmacist determines if the patient meets the clinical criteria for preexposure prophylaxis or postexposure prophylaxis consistent with federal guidelines.”

It also states that before furnishing the prevention medication, a pharmacist must complete a training program.

Notably, the bill bars insurers from requiring step therapy or prior authorization for antiretroviral treatments, such as PrEP and PEP. State Senator Scott Wiener, who introduced the bill, applauded the governor’s signature, noting that many Californians who need the medication currently struggle with access.

“The HIV epidemic is still a pressing issue today—especially for LBGTQ people of color and folks in rural communities. But, with Governor Newsom’s signature, SB 159 is a giant step forward in getting to zero transmissions, zero deaths and zero stigma,” Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, which co-sponsored the bill, said in a statement. “By increasing access to life-saving HIV prevention medication, California—unlike the White House—is leading the country in the race to eliminate HIV.”

The move comes a week after the FDA approved the second HIV prevention pill for certain populations. Descovy received approval for at-risk men who have sex with men and transgender women weighing at least 35 kg. The approval excluded those who are at risk of HIV due to vaginal sex because the efficacy of the pill has not been examined among the population.

 
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