The Oregon House on Monday re-passed House Bill 2958 B, which allows pharmacists to prescribe, dispense, and administer both pre-exposure and post-exposure prophylaxis. Known as PrEP and PEP, the two drugs prevent HIV infection. The bill also clarifies that pharmacists have the legal authority to conduct HIV tests. The bill, which previously passed out of the House in April, passed today 44-11.
“Throughout this bill’s journey through the legislative process, we heard repeatedly that pharmacists have the training necessary to administer these life-saving drugs,” said Rep. Rob Nosse, D-Southeast Portland.
Nosse is one of the bill’s chief sponsors.
“By making PrEP and PEP more widely available, we can get these medicines into communities that have been disproportionately impacted by HIV,” Nosse said.
Currently, more than 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV and many more are at risk of HIV infection. While new HIV diagnoses have declined significantly from their peak, lawmakers expressed concern of HIV resurgence due to several factors, including trends in injection and other drug use.
Lawmakers in support of the bill say HIV-related stigma, homophobia and transphobia, and lack of access create equity gaps in HIV prevention, testing, and treatment.
Rep. Dacia Grayber, D-Tigard, also sponsored the bill.
“This is about reducing barriers to access for life-saving medications,” Grayber said. “PrEP and PEP are both vital parts of the toolkit for ending the HIV epidemic. By empowering pharmacists to test for HIV and prescribe these medications, we make it easier for Oregonians to get the health care services they need.”
“Preventative treatments for HIV have saved countless lives, but not all communities have equal access to these drugs, and we can see the disparities in outcomes for low-income and BIPOC communities,” said co-sponsor Rep. Karin Power, D-Milwaukie. “HB 2958 will help to distribute these life-saving drugs more broadly, so that we can begin to close these gaps in our health care system and ensure that more people are protected.”
HB 2958 B now heads to Gov. Kate Brown’s desk.