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A collage photo of a torso holding a pill box, part of a logo, and part of a prescription bottle.
A collage photo of a torso holding a pill box, part of a logo, and part of a prescription bottle.

The PrEP Patent Expiration & What FOLX is Doing With It

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FOLX Health

Jun 21, 2021

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PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) was introduced in 2012, under the brand names Truvada and Desocvy, to help prevent the spread of HIV with the goal of helping us one day reach a zero transmission rate. PrEP reduces the risk of contracting HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) from sex by about 99% and reduces risk from among people using injectable drugs by at least 74%

But since 2012, PrEP has remained minimally accessible due to exorbitantly high prices, with only about 8.3% of people who should be on PrEP, able to access it.

The biggest barrier to PrEP has been...well, money.

In the United States, up until very recently, PrEP has been available in just two forms: Truvada and Descovy. Both brands were introduced by Gilead Sciences, which also held the patents. With the only two forms of PrEP under patent, this meant that Gilead could exclusively manufacture the medication controlling the price. 

This price control meant that the out-of-pocket cost for a 30-day supply of PrEP could hover around $2,000.This outrageous price tag has limited the access of PrEP to largely only those with high incomes, super generous insurance, or the luxury of time to navigate the various systems that helped find loopholes to offer this deeply protective care. There are existing programs that create access to PrEP for free, but these can often include excruciatingly bureaucratic, time-consuming processes built to prevent people from accessing care.

FOLX is changing the game. 

In April of this year, Truvada officially lost its patent protections when the patent expired. This means that Gliead no longer has a monopoly on the formula for Truvada. With these changes in control over PrEP, new companies can now compete by making generic versions of Truvada, thus lowering prices for PrEP across the board.

FOLX is offering PrEP (generic Truvada) medication AND clinical care for $90/month. 

This means that the cost for an entire year of PrEP care through FOLX can cost less than what Gilead was charging for just one month. Additionally, in order to provide PrEP, FOLX ensures the care that goes with it is clear, too. That means not just the medication, but the lab monitoring required for refills as well. Here’s what that looks like:

  • PrEP delivered directly to your door - $90/month
    • 90-day supply provided (so you don’t have to worry about running out)
    • Refills provided automatically
    • No more waiting at the pharmacy
    • Clinical support provided by the FOLX team
    • Unlimited messaging anytime with questions or concerns
    • Ongoing supervision & lab tracking to keep your health in check
  • Multiple options for clear & easy access to required quarterly lab service
    • Labs ordered to Quest Diagnostics (additional $35/mo)
    • At-home lab kits shipped to you (additional $55/mo)
    • Or upload your labs for free if you have access to a provider or clinic

How did we get the price down?

As the only national virtual health care platform dedicated exclusively to the health of the Queer & Trans community, FOLX has been able to leverage its position to negotiate dramatically lower prices for generic Truvada.

We bundle our services to optimize all costs associated with these medications. Specifically, we:

  • Ship 90-day supplies of medications to minimize pharmacy & shipping costs 
  • Average all our clinical costs into one flat fee so you don’t have to worry about paying for a doctor’s visit every time you have questions or concerns
  • We bill you monthly (even though we ship every 90 days) to split the total cost into  low, manageable prices

Why is this so important to us at FOLX?

Many of us here at FOLX remember back to the days when there was no treatment and no prevention for HIV.  We buried a lot of friends, lovers & colleagues. We knew the day would come when we could build a system to make PrEP accessible to a heck of a lot more people. 

We’ve been dreaming of this day for a very long time. We deserve it.

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