California Governor Gavin Newsom, a
Democrat, on Monday signed a bill into law that will make HIV
prevention drugs available without a prescription.
The drugs are known as PrEP,
pre-exposure prophylaxis, and PEP, post-exposure prophylaxis.
The bill, introduced by Senator Scott
Wiener, an openly gay Democrat from San Francisco, and Assemblyman
Todd Gloria from San Diego, allows pharmacists to dispense the drugs
and bars insurance companies from requiring authorization before the
drugs are provided.
Newsom, a vocal supporter of LGBT
rights, said in a statement that the change could “literally save
“Recent breakthroughs in the
prevention and treatment of HIV can literally save lives,” Newsom
said. “All Californians deserve access to PrEP and PEP, two
treatments that have transformed our fight against HIV and AIDS. I
applaud the Legislature for taking action to expand access to these
treatments and getting us close to ending HIV and AIDS for good.”
Wiener is a strong proponent of HIV
prevention drugs. As a member of the San Francisco Board of
Supervisors in 2014, Wiener announced that he was on PrEP.
He said that the drugs are a key
component in the fight to end new HIV infections.
However, other barriers to access
remain, including the drug's high price. While a generic version of
Truvada is expected to become available in 2020, Gilead Sciences, the
maker of the drug, has already announced a new PrEP drug called
Descovy. In clinical trials, Descovy had fewer side effects.