California to offer HIV drugs prescription-free

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California Governor Gavin Newsom

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Earlier this month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 159 — sponsored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D., San Francisco) and Assemblyman Todd Gloria (D., San Diego) — legislation that allows pharmacists to dispense pre-exposure prophylaxis, known as PrEP, and post-exposure prophylaxis, known as PEP, in a way similar to birth control and emergency ­contraceptives.

The bill, cosponsored by Equality California, expands access to life-saving HIV prevention medication. When SB 159 goes into effect on January 1, 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 antiretroviral 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 cosponsor 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 Gov. 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 Sen. Wiener and Assemblymember Gloria for their leadership and tireless ­advocacy.”


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