UK court rules health service can fund HIV prevention drug
Court rules health service can fund drug
Britain's state-funded health service is responsible for paying for an HIV-prevention drug that has been called a game changer in the fight against AIDS, a court ruled yesterday.
The health service said it would appeal, which means the drug - which advocates say can prevent infection in people at high risk of contracting HIV - is still some way from becoming widely available in Britain.
The National AIDS Trust charity argued that health authorities have an ethical duty to fund pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, a daily treatment that greatly reduces the risk of becoming infected with HIV.
The National Health Service (NHS) argued that it "does not have the legal power to commission PrEP" because preventative public health measures are the responsibility of local government.
Judge Nicholas Green said there was a strong case for preventative treatment, "but one governmental body says it has no power to provide the service and local authorities say they have no money".
The judge ruled that the health service "erred in deciding that it has no power or duty" to commission the treatment.
"The power of NHS England includes commissioning for preventative purposes, and this includes for HIV-related drugs," Green said.
The NHS, which supplies free or subsidised prescription drugs to all Britons, could still decline to prescribe the drug if it decides that it is not good value for money.