Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis or PrEP

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) involves putting HIV negative people on antiretroviral drugs (ARV) with the aim of protecting them from HIV infection. This blog looks at some of the pros and cons of PrEP.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Good Cop, Bad Cop, No Cop, No Problem

A recent article on PrEP notes, among other things, the problem of 'addressing informal markets'. The article is entitled 'Implementation Science of Pre-exposure Prophylaxis: Preparing for Public Use' and it lists many of the 'challenges' of PrEP, which is useful. But because there are so many challenges, informal markets only get a brief paragraph.

If people are getting drugs for free, they could easily sell them on. If PrEP is intended to be sold to people, the drugs that are currently free can be sold, instead. This is an informal market.

This development of informal markets has occurred at various times in various places. There is evidence that it still occurs, which is not really a problem for the pharmaceutical industry, as long as they are getting paid. But it is a problem that people could end up taking unprescribed drugs and using them for purposes for which they were not intended.

There is also a danger that, as the drug taking will not be monitored, if the person becomes infected with HIV, resistance could develop. Again, this is not a problem for the pharmaceutical industry because they have other, more expensive drugs that they can sell. But the person selling on the drugs could be failing to adhere to their own regime and those receiving the drugs are in danger of developing resistance and even passing that on to others.

If PrEP is to be rolled out as a possible means of preventing HIV transmission, it would want to be very well controlled. The numbers of people involved would be far higher than the numbers currently on antiretroviral drugs (ARV) and this program is not very well controlled. As much as 25-40% of people on ARVs in countries such as Kenya could be lost to follow-up. They just don't have the record keeping capacity in their health services to administrate current levels of ARV roll out, let alone an even bigger roll out of PrEP.

Also, the phrase 'implementation science' in the article title smacks of 'scientists' doing more than a little work to help pharmaceutical companies push their wares on populations who may be very reluctant to buy them if they actually get to know anything about them. Implementation science may or may not be related to the practice of 'medical ghostwriting', where pharmaceutical companies (or people acting for them) write up their 'research' and then get some bona fide scientists to put their name to the paper. How much this happens with regard to PrEP, I couldn't say.


No comments:

Post a Comment