California passes bill making HIV-prevention drugs available without prescription

California passes bill making HIV-prevention drugs available without prescription
© Getty

California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin Christopher NewsomHillicon Valley: Zuckerberg would support delaying Libra | More attorneys general join Facebook probe | Defense chief recuses from 'war cloud' contract | Senate GOP blocks two election security bills | FTC brings case against 'stalking' app developer Facebook investing B to tackle affordable housing crisis in California PG&E notifies 200K customers of potential second planned blackout MORE (D) has signed legislation into law that allows pharmacists in the state to dispense medication designed to prevent HIV without a prescription.

Newsom signed off on the measure, also known as Senate Bill 159, on Monday. The bill’s passage comes after the California state Legislature voted overwhelmingly to pass the measure in both of its chambers last month.

ADVERTISEMENT

The bill, co-authored by state Sen. Scott Wiener (D), aims to significantly expand access to PrEP and PEP medication in the state by allowing pharmacists to furnish the medicine to patients without a prescription.

PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis medication, is highly effective for those at “very high risk” of HIV when taken daily, according to the CDC. The agency also cited studies that found the drug to have reduced a person’s risk of contracting HIV from sex by roughly 99 percent with regular use.   

According to the Minority HIV/AIDS Fund, PEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis medication, is used to prevent HIV immediately after possible exposure to the virus. Its effectiveness at preventing the virus from spreading depends on how quickly a patient takes the medication.

Newsom’s office said the bill also “prohibits insurance companies from requiring prior authorizations for patients to obtain PrEP coverage.”

In a statement his office released shortly after the bill signing on Monday, Newsom said that 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 closer to ending HIV and AIDS for good," he added.

According to ABC News, the legislation makes California the first state in the nation to make the HIV prevention drugs available over-the-counter.