A court in England has recently ruled that NHS England can pay for Gilead’s Truvada for use in HIV prevention, after campaigners took legal action over the refusal to fund it.

Earlier this summer NHS England had refused to pay for Truvada, saying that it was down to councils to fund preventive treatments.

In a High Court ruling, Mr Justice Green, stated there was nothing to stop the NHS paying for the drug. But NHS England says it will fight the decision, arguing that paying for the drug could jeopardise future funding for other treatments and services.

The National Aids Trust (NAT), which challenged NHS’s stance in the courts, said the ruling is “vindication for the many people who were let down” by the decision to axe pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) funding in June. Although the NAT said it is “enormously disappointing” that NHS England has decided to appeal this judgement.

The appeal could mean that any potential commissioning of PrEP will not take place for several months.

There will be a 30-day public consultation on PrEP, which the NAT said should begin almost immediately.

An NHS England committee will consider the case for commissioning, although it will depend on the outcome of the appeal along with the final decision.

NHS England had previously suggested that funding for a national scheme would be available, but after 18 months of preparation the public body backed down and said it would pay for only a handful of pilot sites.

The PROUD study had provided the clinical basis for PrEP in high-risk individuals in England, which was further reinforced when European regulators said the drug could be used in this indication late last month.

Ian Green, chief executive of Terrence Higgins Trust HIV charity, stated: “Because of the mess and delays created by NHS England, people at risk of HIV have spent the past 18 months fighting to be heard, meanwhile 17 people have been diagnosed with HIV with every day that has passed.”

Green said that many people were coming off the PROUD trial this month.

“Unless NHS England acts rapidly, it is only a matter of time before some of these people become HIV positive. PrEP must be prioritised and made available now.”

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