Hospital has stand-by stock of emergency preventive HIV medication – ministry

Health Ministry confirms PEP is no longer stocked at Mater Dei Hospital pharmacy, however, the hospital still has 'stand by stock'

File photo
File photo

Mater Dei Hospital pharmacy is no longer selling PEP, a medicine taken to prevent HIV, the Health Ministry has confirmed but the hospital still has a “stand by stock.”

A ministry spokesperson told MaltaToday that PEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis, an emergency medicine to prevent HIV after possible exposure, is no longer stocked at the hospital pharmacy. The medicine must be started within 72 hours after suspected exposure to HIV.

“PEP medication is held in three identified locations within MDH where a stand by stock is maintained for accidental exposures and sexual assault victims,” the ministry said.

Last week, the HIV advocacy group, Checkpoint Malta, warned that PEP was no longer being sold at the Mater Dei Pharmacy and that out of the 200 pharmacies on the island, only three stocked the emergency medication.

“Should someone wish to acquire PEP in the short window that it can be effectively taken, they need to get a prescription from A&E or the GU Clinic,” the group said.

Checkpoint Malta said the consequences of not getting PEP in time could mean the difference between “living with a chronic condition or not.”

Proposal 670 of the Labour Party manifesto says that the government intends to put PEP on the government formulary list.

The ministry confirmed this is still the case. “Notwithstanding this, the ministry reiterates its commitment to introduce PEP in the government formulary throughout this legislature.”