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Superdrug launches remote HIV prophylaxis prevention service

Superdrug has launched a “fully remote” pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) service, which it will deliver via its Online Doctor.

Anyone who is over 18, does not have human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV) but believes they are at risk of contracting the infection is eligible for the service, Superdrug announced today (October 8).

The multiple will ensure that those using its service will have the blood monitoring they need to check that PrEP is prescribed safely, the multiple said.

Service users will be prescribed a generic version of Emtricitabine 200mg/Tenofovir Disoproxil 245mg, the multiple said. The cost of a 30-tablet pack of the drug is £80, which covers one month’s supply.

Prices go up to £155 for a 60-tablet pack, covering two months’ worth of supply, and £220 for a 90-tablet pack, which covers users for three months.

Superdrug also offers a basic test for HIV and kidney function for £39.99 and a “full PrEP test kit” – which also tests for hepatitis B and C – for £99.99, a spokesperson told C+D today.

Improving access to PrEP

Service users can conveniently access the service via Superdrug’s Online Doctor, which offers help to those who cannot travel to a sexual health clinic, for example, due to their location or because of COVID-19 restrictions, the multiple said.

Access to PrEP has been free in Scotland since July 2017, while those at risk of contracting HIV in Wales can access it for free as part of the PrEPARED trial. In Northern Ireland, PrEP will be accessible for free for the next two years at genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics, as part of a pilot trial.

Last month (September 25), the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) announced that local authorities in England will receive a grant worth £11.2 million to provide free access to PrEP.

Health secretary Matt Hancock announced in March that the DH will make PrEP available across England on the NHS in 2020/21, but the national commissioning of this was delayed due to COVID-19.

Superdrug healthcare director Michael Henry said that following the DH’s announcement, the multiple is also increasing the availability of PrEP and “making it more easily accessible to people who need it via our Online Doctor PrEP service”.

Dr Michael Brady, medical director at HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust said Superdrug’s move to make PrEP accessible through its website will “help raise awareness of this game-changer for preventing HIV, especially among groups that might not have heard much about PrEP before”.

“The majority of people currently taking PrEP in the UK are gay and bisexual men – but PrEP works for everyone at risk of HIV. We hope that initiatives like this will result in more people learning about the benefits of PrEP, especially women, BAME communities and trans people,” he added.

Would you consider offering a PrEP service from your pharmacy?

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