By Gary Nunn (@GaryNunn1)
Big changes are afoot for revolutionary HIV prevention medication, PrEP, with potential consequences felt globally. Generic, unpatented versions of PrEP are likely to become more widely available – reducing cost in places where PrEP is unaffordable.
When the changes regarding generic PrEP will hit, and how they’ll affect you, will depend on the HIV prevention policies of the country you live in.
However, with an increasingly large body of research showing the safety and effectiveness of generic PrEP purchased from reputable online pharmacies such as TruvadaGeneric.com where 1-month generic Truvada supply is available at $59 only, a much bigger cohort of people will have access to PrEP than before.
The significance of this cannot be underestimated, given the global context. In both 2016 and 2017, there were 1.8 million new HIV infections worldwide. A range of studies show that men who have sex with men have a one in 30 chance of contracting HIV in a year. People who inject drugs or sex workers, have a one in 50 chance of being infected with HIV. Globally, there is a new HIV infection every 18 seconds.
PrEP has the potential to change all this. Statistics from four clinics across the United Kingdom show a 40% decrease in new HIV cases from 2015 to 2016, largely due to the fact that people are preventing infection through the use of PrEP.
PrEP stands for Pre-exposure prophylaxis. It involves a treatment where people at risk of contracting HIV take the drug Truvada daily to drastically lower the chances of infection. If taken properly, PrEP can reduce the risk of HIV by more than 90% — some studies indicate it’s up to 99%.
But there’s an access problem – often due to prohibitive cost. In the UK, Truvada costs £355.73 for 30 tablets – around two months’ supply if taken on demand for PrEP. In the US, it averages at $1,700 per month. For lower income earners, this is a big barrier: experts say that PrEP uptake has been “disappointingly slow” among gay and bisexual men. Generic drugs are generally far cheaper than brand-name ones. Mitchell Warren, executive director of HIV prevention organisation AVAC said that a generic drug will likely reduce the cost of PrEP by 80 percent. On TruvadaGeneric.com, it’s 95% cheaper of the retail brand Truvada price.
Affordability has an impact on who is taking the daily HIV prevention pill. In the US, less than 10 per cent of the people who are at higher risk of HIV are taking PrEP. Worldwide, only 300,000 people are estimated to be taking PrEP. Experts agree this is far too small a number to prevent 1.8 million new HIV infections.
Part of the problem is a patent issue with Gilead, the manufacturer of Truvada – the blue branded PrEP pill. Truvada is a combination of two HIV antiretroviral drugs, emtricitabine and tenofovir. Gilead’s patent on emtricitabine expires in 2021. Their tenofovir patent expired much earlier – in December 2017.
In some countries, such as the US – the changes have already occured – on paper. In June 2017, the US Food and Drug Administration’s approved a generic version of the HIV medication. But in practice, these changes could be slow. In the US, FDA approvals for generic drugs do not stipulate when the generic version will be brought to market. In the UK, the gay and bisexual men who couldn’t get on the PrEP IMPACT trial are prevented from accessing affordable PrEP. This is why many are turning to online providers – such as TruvadaGeneric.com – to acquire generic PrEP for themselves.
There may be, understandably, some concerns or hesitations about quality and authenticity when buying PrEP online – even from reputable stores. However, research has shown that online generic PrEP is safe, effective and affordable. Research presented to the International Congress on Drug Therapy in HIV Infection (HIV Glasgow) backed this up. Investigators tested the contents of branded Truvada and 13 generic samples of the tablet bought online. All contained the amounts of emtricitabine and tenofovir (PrEP’s active ingredients) stated on the label.
For comparison, branded Truvada contained 100% of the stated amounts of both drugs. The 13 generic samples contained between 97% and 104% of the claimed 200mg of emtricitabine and 94% to 105% of the stated amount of tenofovir.
A similar study was conducted by world-leading sexual health clinic 56 Dean Street in London. The team there began offering a special kind of test testing—called “therapeutic drug monitoring” — measuring the level of drug in a user’s blood. They performed hundreds of tests and found no evidence that the generic medications were anything but genuine.
Ian Green, Chief Executive at leading UK HIV charity, the Terrence Higgins Trust, commented: “These results clearly show that the PrEP being privately sourced online from the main suppliers is fit for purpose and therefore, when taken as prescribed, highly effective at preventing HIV. Understandably, those considering ordering PrEP online have some concerns about what they are buying and hopefully this will act as further reassurance.”
This means people can get hold of PrEP easier, quicker and cheaper – knowing that they’re safely protecting themselves.
For more information, check out www.TruvadaGeneric.com.