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

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

Today, the Massachusetts Senate took a crucial step toward ending the HIV epidemic by passing “An Act enabling pharmacists to prescribe, dispense and administer PrEP” (S.2480).

“We’re grateful to Senator Cyr and Senate President Spilka for their unwavering commitment to removing barriers to PrEP access,” said Ben Klein, Senior Director of Litigation and HIV Law at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD). “S.2480 is life-saving legislation that opens a new avenue to obtaining PrEP quickly and easily for people who have difficulty accessing health care.”

Sponsored by Sen. Julian Cyr, S.2480 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.2480 significantly advances the Commonwealth’s goal of ending the HIV epidemic.

“PrEP is a game-changing tool for ending the HIV epidemic, but it remains extremely underutilized,” added Klein. “In Massachusetts, only about one-third of all those for whom PrEP is indicated are currently using it, and the racial disparities in access, particularly among Black and Latinx communities, are especially shocking. Nationally just 13 percent of eligible Black individuals currently have access to this effective and potentially life-saving preventative. We commend the Senate for today’s vote and look forward to working with Rep. Jack Lewis, sponsor of the House’s version of the bill (H.2225), on moving this legislation on to final passage.”

PrEP access is under attack nationally. S.2480 is one of two bills GLAD is advocating for to increase access to PrEP in Massachusetts. The second, An Act to address barriers to HIV prevention medication” (S.619/H.1085), also sponsored by Senator Cyr and Rep. Lewis, would remove insurance barriers that prevent people from receiving PrEP in a timely and consistent manner. S.619/H.1085 would eliminate onerous prior authorization requirements that delay access and can mean the difference between prevention or transmission of HIV.

“Copays, deductibles and pre-authorization requirements all decrease utilization of PrEP. That means more HIV cases, more significant HIV-related illness and even death, and ever-widening racial health disparities,” Klein said. “We must aggressively use every tool in our arsenal to reduce transmission and PrEP is the most potent tool we have. Access to PrEP is an essential public health measure and we’re grateful to legislative leaders including Senator Cyr and Rep. Lewis who are demonstrating their deep commitment to ending the HIV epidemic in Massachusetts.”

Learn more about the bill