GLAD Praises Senate Passage of Bill to Make HIV-Prevention Pill Available at Pharmacies Without a Prescription

Urges House to quickly follow suit to advance the Commonwealth’s goal of ending the HIV epidemic

Today, the Massachusetts Senate took a bold step toward ending the HIV epidemic by passing “An Act Enabling Pharmacists to Prescribe, Dispense and Administer PrEP” (S. 2955), sponsored by Senator Julian Cyr.

S. 2955 expands access to HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)—a simple, safe medication that reduces the risk of HIV by close to 100 percent yet remains underutilized—by permitting pharmacists to dispense a 60-day supply without a prescription. The bill also requires pharmacists to link customers who receive a limited supply of PrEP to primary care for ongoing medication and monitoring. By addressing disparities in access to critical HIV services and increasing access to the best tool available for preventing HIV transmission, S. 2955 significantly advances the Commonwealth’s goal of ending the HIV epidemic.

California, Colorado, and Maine have all passed legislation similar to S. 2955, which now awaits action in the Massachusetts House.

Statement from Senator and lead sponsor Julian Cyr:

“PrEP is a game-changer in HIV prevention that reduces the risk of HIV transmission by 99%. While there has been great progress in managing HIV since the virus was first identified, tens of thousands of people continue to contract HIV each year, and gay and bisexual men, especially gay and bisexual men of color, are disproportionately impacted. Increasing access to this vital treatment by enabling pharmacists to prescribe PrEP and improving access to care by requiring pharmacists to link customers to medical care will bolster the Commonwealth’s overall public health and address health care inequities.”

Statement from Janson Wu, Executive Director, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD):

“As an organization committed to advocating for the most effective and groundbreaking strategies to end the HIV epidemic, GLAD is grateful to Sen. Cyr for his leadership in getting S. 2955 through the Senate.

“We also thank Senate President Karen Spilka and Senate leaders Michael Rodrigues, Cindy Friedman, and Joanne Comerford for their commitment to advancing the bill. We are also appreciative of Representative Jack Lewis, Senator Harriette Chandler, and Representative Adam Scanlon for their co-sponsorship of this important legislation.

“Should S 2955 become law, Massachusetts would once again be at the forefront of both HIV prevention and expanding access to health care, becoming the fourth state to make PrEP available through pharmacies after California, Colorado, and Maine. We look forward to working with leaders in the House to make this a reality.”

Statement from Ben Klein, GLAD’s AIDS Law Project Director:

“We must do everything we can to expand access to this highly effective HIV medication, which is the best tool for ending the epidemic. The passage of S. 2955 in the Senate is an important step in that direction. Authorizing pharmacies to dispense PrEP would help eliminate barriers to care faced by LGBTQ people and people of color—particularly gay and bisexual men of color and transgender women—groups who are most at risk for HIV.

“We’re grateful for Sen. Cyr’s leadership on this issue.

“We urge the House to follow the Senate’s example and quickly pass S. 2955 and expand access to this simple, safe, and effective medication.”

Learn more about the bill

Read the latest coverage in the Boston Globe

Find out how GLAD is working to expand PrEP access