President Trump hailed on Thursday a deal with Gilead for the donation of PrEP for HIV prevention for the uninsured as “great news.”
Trump, who announced during his State of the Union address a plan to beat the HIV epidemic by 2030, took to Twitter to declare his pleasure the agreement with the drug manufacturer.
“Great news today: My Administration just secured a historic donation of HIV prevention drugs from Gilead to help expand access to PrEP for the uninsured and those at risk,” Trump tweeted. “Will help us achieve our goal of ending the HIV epidemic in America!”
Trump quotes other tweets from Secretary of Health & Human Services Alex Azar, who outlined the general contours of the deal with Gilead and said it consists of a ”historic donation of #HIV prevention medication for up to 200,000 individuals each year for up to 11 years.”
“The agreement will provide pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to treat individuals who are at risk for HIV and who are uninsured, including in the states and counties identified as priority areas in @POTUS’s plan to #EndHIVEpidemic in America.,” Azar added.
Drawing on statistics showing only small portion of individuals vulnerable to HIV infection, including gay men, are on PrEP, Azar adds the majority of Americans “who are at risk and who could protect themselves with PrEP are still not receiving the medication.”
Gilead confirmed the donation to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention in a statement, calling the agreement among the largest ever in the United States.
“We are proud to partner with CDC to dramatically expand access to medication that can help prevent new HIV infections,” Gregg Alton, Chief Patient Officer for Gilead Sciences said. “We believe today’s donation, combined with efforts to address the root causes of the epidemic, such as racism, violence against women, stigma, homophobia and transphobia, can play an important role in ending the HIV epidemic in the United States, particularly in parts of the country with the highest burden of disease.”
The Trump administration plan seeks to reduce new HIV diagnoses by 75 percent within five years, and by 90 percent within 10 years by targeting 48 counties in the United States, D.C., and San Juan, Puerto Rico, as well as seven states where the epidemic is mostly in rural areas.
Carl Schmid, deputy director for the AIDS Institute, hailed the deal with Gilead in a statement as “a very significant development” in the effort to achieve that goal.
“It will free up the federal government from having to spend potentially billions of dollars over the next 11 years for the purchase of PrEP for the uninsured,” Schmid said. “Now, we have to focus on making sure people who need PrEP are aware of it and adhere to it.”
The deal was announced one day after Gilead announced a generic version of PrEP would be available beginning in September 2020, one year earlier than anticipated.
Further, the deal comes on the same day the Democratic-controlled House Appropriations Committee approved an increase of $490 million for domestic HIV programs. The allocation surpasses the $300 million the Trump administration sought to combat HIV as part of its annual budget request in addition to rejecting the proposed $424 million cut to AIDS research at the National Institutes for Health.
“After the House Appropriations Committee approval yesterday of an increase of nearly $500 million for domestic HIV programs, today, with this announcement, the administration’s Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative just received another boost and is now closer to reality,” Schmid added.