In the United States (USA), HIV preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) use is suboptimal. Population-level metrics on PrEP use are limited and focus on prescriptions issued rather than how much prescriptions are picked up. We introduce PrEP reversals, defined as when patients fail to pick up PrEP prescriptions at the pharmacy point-of-sale, as a proxy for PrEP initiation and persistence.
We analysed PrEP pharmacy claims and HIV diagnoses from a Symphony Health Solutions dataset across all US states from 1 October 2015 to 30 September 2019.
We calculated the percentage of individuals who were newly prescribed PrEP and who reversed (i.e. patient did not pick up an insurance-approved prescription and pharmacy withdrew the claim), delayed (reversed and then picked up within 90 days), very delayed (reversed and then picked up between 90 and 365 days) or abandoned (not picked up within 365 days), and subsequent HIV diagnosis within 365 days.
Of 59 219 individuals newly prescribed PrEP, 19% reversed their index prescription. Among those, 21% delayed initiation and 8% had very delayed initiation. Seventy-one percent of patients who reversed their initial prescription abandoned it, 6% of whom were diagnosed with HIV---three times higher than those who persisted on PrEP.
Nearly one in five patients newlyprescribed PrEP reversed initial prescriptions, leading to delayed medication access, being lost to PrEP care, and dramatically higher HIV risk. Reversals could be used for real-time nationwide PrEP population-based initiation and persistence tracking, and for identifying patients that might otherwise be lost to care.