Scotland has become the first part of the UK to approve a controversial gay lifestyle drug.
This week, the Scottish Medicines Consortium approved the routine use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a drug mainly intended for men who do not have HIV but are at risk of contracting it through homosexual activity.
The drug, which costs around £450 per patient, per month, has been criticised for condoning promiscuous behaviour.
At the end of last year, NHS England also approved a “large scale clinical trial” of the drug, at a cost of up to £10 million.
At the time, health and patient groups condemned the move as it emerged that funding for three vital treatments was blocked around the same time the trial was given the green light.
Joyce Robins, of Patient Concern, said: “It worries me to be spending money on this at a time when the NHS is so strapped for cash, with so many patients being refused treatment, and waiting lists getting longer”.
And the president of US group AIDS Healthcare Foundation said the trial could actually lead to an increased spread of HIV – and other sexually transmitted diseases – as it encourages promiscuous behaviour.
The move also attracted criticism from Norman Wells, of Family Education Trust, who said:
“At a time of severe financial restraint, it is quite wrong to prioritise a preventative initiative for people who engage in high-risk activities over treatments for people with diagnosed conditions outside their control.”