The Greens are calling for Australia to import and subsidise an HIV-prevention drug even if it is not approved for government-subsidies under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration this month approved Truvada, a pill likened to an HIV contraceptive, as safe to be used as a preventative drug in Australia. The drug, already available in the US and France, uses a measure known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PReP) for prevention.
Thousands of people are understood to be taking the treatment in state-run clinical trials, but the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Council has yet to decide whether it should be listed on the PBS.
The Greens are proposing that if the drug is rejected in July, $8.7 million be used to help import PReP for about 3000 people who are at high risk of HIV infection and are not enrolled in such trials. It also pledged on Wednesday another $25.7 million to allow them to continue using it after the trials finished.
Greens leader Richard Di Natalie said: "Without Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme listing, many potential users of PrEP will not be able to afford to take the medication. We have strongly advocated for the introduction of PrEP into Australia and we will continue to fight for this critical medication to be funded," Senator Di Natale said.
Greens sexuality spokesman Robert Simms said a course of the daily drug currently cost about $9000 per person. Senator Simms said the importation model was an extension of a program being run by the Western Australian AIDS council.
"The reality is a lot of drugs are knocked back at first application," he said. "We're already behind countries like France and the US in terms of making it available. (The drug is) getting really positive results overseas and it's a really effective tool in reducing transmission of HIV."