The Department of Health and Human Services announced details Tuesday for applying for free PrEP medications through the federal government.
The new program – called Ready, Set, PrEP – will distribute pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medications to help prevent people currently HIV-negative from becoming infected with the virus.
Drugstore chains CVS Health, Walgreens and Rite Aid, which have a combined 21,000 locations across the country, will donate prescribing services for the program.
Folks can go to the new website GetYourPrEP.com to apply for the medications or call toll free 855-447-8410.
In order to qualify, an individual must be HIV-negative, lack prescription drug coverage, and obtain a valid prescription for the medication. All medications are fully covered for qualifying participants; however, the costs of necessary clinic visits and lab tests may vary depending on an individual’s income.
Earlier this year, drugmaker Gilead Sciences announced it would donate 2.4 million bottles of Truvada to up to 200,000 uninsured people annually through 2030.
Gilead is the manufacturer of both Truvada and Descovy, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for PrEP use on October 3 this year. They are the only approved drugs for use as PrEP by the FDA.
In its announcement, Gilead said the offer would “transition to Descovy if it is approved for use as PrEP.”
Gilead has also announced a generic version of Truvada will become available by 2020.
Ready, Set, PrEP is part of the current administration’s ‘Ending the HIV Epidemic Plan’ which was announced during President Trump’s State of the Union address this year. The plan has a goal of reducing the number of new HIV diagnoses in the U.S. by 75 percent in five years and by 90 percent in 10 years.
Today’s news comes as the federal government is currently suing Gilead for patent infringement regarding PrEP.
In a press release on November 6, the Health and Human Services Department announced the United States had filed a complaint in federal district court alleging Gilead had profited from research funded by hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and reaped billions from PrEP through the sale of Truvada® and Descovy®.
Currently, a month supply of Truvada in the United States sells between $1,600 to $2,000 for those without prescription drug coverage, while in other parts of the world it is available for as low as $70. In 2018 alone, Gilead amassed $3 billion in the sale of Truvada.