PrEP drug priced out of most people’s reach

The HIV/AIDS-fighting drug PrEP is being priced out of most patients’ reach. Although the drug has been out for several years, the cost has surged in recent times.

As quoted in Plus magazine, James Krellenstein, a member of HIV/AIDS advocacy organization ACT UP New York, said “If there is any example of the dysfunction in the American pharmaceutical system, it is this case … We have the most effective tool for ending the HIV epidemic, and one reason we’re unable to scale up is because it costs so [much] unnecessarily.”

The drug, whose brand name is Truvada, was authorized for medical use six years ago. Its nickname, PrEP, is an initialism for the drug’s effect.

Truvada functions as a pre-exposure prophylaxis. PrEP’s rate of prevention is estimated to be 90 percent–if taken daily.

However, the sticker cost for the drug has gone up as name recognition has. The total rise in cost is approximately 45 percent. It’s making a bundle of money for its maker, the company Gilead Sciences.

That lifesaving solution comes with a hefty price. If you want a month-long supply, you’d better be prepared to pay $2000.

Now, it’s true that many insurers cover the drug. But all too often, patients must grapple with costs that come out of pocket.

The private health industry has been studying how to push the cost for drugs onto the consumer. That means increasing consumer responsibility for drug costs–and waging a silent battle against consumers using coupons to take the cost out of copays.

Out of the million people at high risk of HIV-contraction, Gilead estimates the consumption total for PrEP is currently at 167,000 persons.

The cost of the drug to states is estimated to rank in the millions of dollars.