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10.11.16

NHS England appeal against PrEP ruling defeated

A legal ruling that NHS England, not local government, is responsible for commissioning HIV prevention drug PrEP has been upheld by the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal rejected NHS England’s appeal against a High Court ruling in August that it has responsibility for the drug, which is taken by those with a heightened risk of HIV to prevent infection.

The National Aids Trust (NAT) sought judicial review to challenge the decision, which NHS England made after arguing that councils should take responsibility for PrEP as part of their public health remit.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chair of the LGA community wellbeing board, said: “We are pleased that today's ruling by the Court of Appeal confirms our position that NHS England has the power to commission the HIV treatment PrEP.

“We were disappointed that NHS England chose to challenge the High Court decision, at great expense to the taxpayer and at a time when council and health budgets are under huge pressures.”

The ruling means that NHS England will have to decide whether PrEP is among the medical treatments it chooses to commission.

Deborah Gold, chief executive of the NAT, said: “We are delighted to have been vindicated by the Court a second time. HIV is a critical issue in the UK where over 4,000 people acquire HIV every year. PrEP works, it saves money, and most importantly it has the power to prevent HIV acquisition for thousands of people, at the same time as beginning to end the HIV epidemic. This judgement brings that possibility one step closer.

“We look forward to what we hope will be a balanced and evidence-based decision on PrEP by NHS England, as well the opportunity to work alongside NHS England collaboratively for the benefit of people living with and at risk of HIV.”

Ian Green, chief executive of the Terrence Higgins Trust, added that two courts have now ruled that NHS England has the legal power to fund PrEP.  “It is time for NHS England to do the right thing and respect its legal duty to consider funding this highly effective treatment,” he noted.

In a statement, NHS England said it welcomed the decision, which showed that it had “the ability but not the obligation” to fund PrEP.

The organisation added that the Court of Appeal ruling, unlike the High Court ruling, clarified that the NHS did not have to “fund local authorities’ public health responsibilities just because they have not done so”.

NHS England explained it would now decide whether to fund PrEP, discuss with local authorities how PrEP could be administered by their sexual health teams, and ask the drug manufacturer to reconsider its pricing.

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Comments

Allen Mpho   11/11/2016 at 20:41

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