California Pharmacists Will Dispense HIV PrEP/PEP Medications without Prescription

California will be the first state to provide access to HIV prevention drugs without a prescription.


On Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 159 that will allow pharmacists in the state to dispense HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) medications without a prescription.

California will be the first state to make such an arrangement, which could be particularly useful for minority and rural populations.

The lawmakers said that the bill would expand access to HIV PrEP drugs without a prescription because many people have to face a number of issues obtaining a prescription.

The law will authorize state pharmacists to provide at least 30-day supply, with up to a 60-day supply used for PrEP without a prescription, according to Equality California that cosponsored the bill. Also, the bill will allow them to offer a full course of medications used for HIV PEP.

  • PrEP includes daily administration of the drug to those who are HIV-negative in order to prevent them from getting infected if exposed to the virus.
  • PEP includes daily administration of the drug to prevent HIV infection after getting exposed to the virus, which is to be taken within 72 hours after getting exposed and should be continued for 28 days.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Truvada and Descovy, both manufactured by Gilead Sciences, for HIV PrEP. Gilead said that it would make a generic version of Truvada available later this year.

The lawmakers said that pharmacists who will dispense PrEP/PEP medication without a prescription should first undergo a complete training program approved by the state’s pharmacy board.

The new bill, which will take effect from January 1, 2020, is estimated to increase the use of PrEP/PEP by at least 2 percent in 2020.

Executive Director of Equality California Rick Zbur said, “The HIV epidemic is still a pressing issue today, especially for LGBTQ people of color and folks in rural communities. But with Governor Newsom’s signature, SB 159 is a giant step forward in getting to zero transmissions, zero deaths and zero stigma.” “By increasing access to lifesaving HIV prevention medication, California, unlike the White House, is leading the country in the race to eliminate HIV,” continued Zbur. “We owe a debt of gratitude to Sen. [Scott] Wiener and Assemblymember [Todd] Gloria for their leadership and tireless advocacy.” Sen. Wiener and Gloria were lead authors of the new bill.