California Is First State To Approve Over the Counter HIV Prevention Pills
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation on Monday allowing pharmacists in the state to dispense HIV prevention pills to patients without a prescription, according to The Guardian.
Supporters of the legislation claim that it will greatly reduce the spread of the infection.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis, also called PrEP, and post-exposure prophylaxis, known as PEP, are the pills approved for distribution sans prescriptions.
PrEP is taken once a day for HIV negative people while PEP is a medication taken to prevent the virus from taking hold. If started within 72 hours of exposure to the virus, PEP significantly reduces the risk of infection. This time frame is critical, and helps individuals not able to access doctors that quickly.
The legislation limits the number of PrEP pills patients can receive without a physician’s note for up to 60 days. Furthermore, the law prohibits insurance companies from requiring prior authorization to obtain the pills.
Nearly 30,000 people in California use PrEP and 6,000 use PEP, according to the California Health Benefits Review Program. Senator Scott Wiener helped author the bill as he has publicly stated that he takes PrEP as an HIV prevention strategy.
“To end new HIV infections, we must dramatically expand access to PrEP and PEP, yet far too many Californians who need these drugs struggle to access them,” he said.