Two HIV prevention pills are now legal to buy in California without a doctor’s note.
SB 159 was signed into law by Governor Newsom, allowing the HIV prevention drugs PrEP and PEP to essentially be sold over the counter. The bill was heavily amended when passed, mostly about how long people could go without needing a prescription, which was eventually settled on being for 60 days.
PEP helps prevent HIV spread 72 hours after exposure, while PrEP is a daily pill that helps HIV-negative people keep the disease in check for 24 hours.
SB 159 was introduced by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco). Senator Wiener has said that he supported the bill because it could help prevent and reduce spread of the disease, as well as give assistance to people in a limited time frame when they may otherwise not be able to see a doctor.
“To end new HIV infections, we must dramatically expand access to PrEP and PEP, yet far too many Californians who need these drugs struggle to access them,” said Senator Wiener, who himself takes PrEP to combat any possible HIV infection.
Supporters of the bill, such as HIV/AIDS groups, gay organizations, Medical associations, and fellow politicians, applauded the signing, with many lauding how it could help reduce the number of HIV cases in California. From 2012 to 2016, the number of HIV cases in California jumped from 121,000 to 132,000.
While the bill once had substantial opposition from Medical groups and other organizations against the pills being widely available without a doctor’s permission, new amendments limiting how long the drugs could be sold to someone before a prescription is needed evaporated opposition overnight. By the time it reached the Assembly and Senate for votes the once mixed voted became unanimous for passage of SB 159.
Upon signing the bill, Governor Newsom stated “All Californians deserve access to PrEP and PEP. I applaud the legislature for taking action to expand access to these treatments and getting us close to ending HIV and AIDS for good.”
SB 159’s signing has jump-started legislation on further no-prescription-needed medications for similar well-being drugs, which may be submitted as bills as soon as next session.