PrEP in British Columbia
We are excited to announce that Freddie has launched in BC!
The great thing about PrEP in British Columbia is that it's fully covered provincially and free if you’re eligible.
However, the current process to access PrEP in BC can be time-consuming, especially if you live outside a major city.
As a bit of context: due to provincial regulations, all prescriptions for generic Truvada must be accessed through the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) Drug Treatment Program.
Obtaining PrEP through the BC-CfE requires three visits with:
- An approved GP or clinician for an initial consult.
- A lab for testing.
- A GP/clinician or BC-CfE-approved pharmacy to pick up your prescription.
The GP or clinician must be licensed to prescribe PrEP (not all are), complete paperwork on the patients' behalf, and submit it to the BC-CfE.
The BC-CfE will then send a prescription of generic Truvada either back to the GP or one of the three CfE-approved pharmacy locations in:
- Downtown Vancouver
No other pharmacies in BC carry generic Truvada paid for through the BC-CfE.
For patients who live far from a PrEP prescriber, these barriers can make it difficult to access and/or stay on PrEP.
Freddie is a simpler way to access PrEP in BC. Unfortunately, due to provincial regulations, Freddie can only serve patients with private insurance in British Columbia at this time.
Patients with public coverage through the Medical Services Plan (MSP) must go through the BC Centre for Excellence system. Through private insurance in British Columbia, Freddie is able to provide Descovy (tenofovir alafenamide/emtricitabine), the newest option for PrEP. Freddie is not able to provide generic Truvada (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate/emtricitabine) as insurance providers will decline coverage. Descovy has been studied for prevention of HIV transmission through anal (back) sex among men and trans-women who have sex with men. There is currently no published evidence for the prevention of HIV transmission through vaginal (front) sex or intravenous drug use using Descovy.
What Freddie's launch means for BC residents with private insurance
Getting PrEP through a traditional GP requires many in-person visits. Most traditional methods to access PrEP are not streamlined and don’t provide reminders, nor provide accessible support to make it easier for patients to stay on PrEP.
With Freddie, patients with private insurance can access:
- Free virtual PrEP consultations (no more waiting rooms).
- A user-friendly patient portal (no more outdated websites).
- Free, discreet delivery to their home (no more commuting).
Patients will still need to physically visit a lab to conduct their required testing.
Descovy is the newest form of PrEP with fewer reported side effects, allowing more patients with pre-existing conditions to access HIV prevention through PrEP.
Currently, the BC-CfE only provides generic Truvada as PrEP.
In some scenarios, the BC-CfE will provide Descovy to patients, but this is only when a patient cannot use generic Truvada.
At this time, patients cannot choose to use Descovy through the BC-CfE, even if they have private insurance to cover the cost.
Now that Freddie has launched in BC, patients with private insurance can obtain Descovy as PrEP through Freddie (with or without pre-existing conditions).
Descovy is $0 for the vast majority of Freddie patients.
What Freddie's launch means for BC residents with public insurance
Unfortunately, due to provincial regulation and funding limitations, Freddie cannot serve patients without private insurance in British Columbia at this time.
If you are a BC resident and don't have private insurance, you must continue to access your PrEP in person through The Centre for Excellence or pay out of pocket for PrEP (around $250/month).
PrEP should be accessible to anyone that needs it. We will never stop working to make that goal a reality.
We look forward to serving you, British Columbia!