California makes PrEP and PEP available without prescription

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Pharmacists will be able to dispense HIV prevention drugs.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. A newly signed California law is helping put pharmacists front and center for HIV prevention. On Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Sen. Scott Wiener (D, San Francisco) and Asm. Todd Gloria’s  (D, San Diego) SB 159 — co-sponsored by Equality California — expanding access to life-saving HIV prevention medication. When SB 159 goes into effect on January 1, 2020, California will become the first state in the nation to authorize pharmacists to furnish at least a 30-day supply — and up to a 60-day supply — of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and a complete course of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) without a physician’s prescription. The legislation also prohibits insurance companies from requiring “step therapy” or prior authorization for anti-retroviral drugs, including PrEP and PEP. The bill is a key step in California’s work to eliminate HIV and delivers on Newsom’s campaign pledge to take aggressive action to end the HIV epidemic.

Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization and a co-sponsor of SB 159, released the following statement from executive director Rick Zbur: “The HIV epidemic is still a pressing issue today — especially for LGBTQ people of color and folks in rural communities. But with Governor Newsom’s signature, SB 159 is a giant step forward in getting to zero transmissions, zero deaths and zero stigma. By increasing access to life-saving HIV prevention medication, California — unlike the White House — is leading the country in the race to eliminate HIV. We owe a debt of gratitude to Senator Wiener and Assembly member Gloria for their leadership and tireless advocacy.”

SB 159 enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support in both the Senate and the Assembly, passing both chambers with nearly unanimous support. In addition to Equality California, SB 159 was co-sponsored by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, APLA Health, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the California Pharmacists Association and California Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists. In addition to Assemblymember Gloria, SB 159 is also co-authored by Senators Steven Glazer (D, Orinda) and Jeffrey Stone (R, La Quinta), and Assemblymembers Mike Gipson (D, Carson) and David Chiu (D, San Francisco).

For full text of the bill, please click here.


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