United HealthCare said it was changing its Truvada policy over the weekend after it was revealed the company had denied the PrEP drug to a gay man because “the information you sent in shows you are using this medicine for high risk homosexual behavior.”
The company’s denial was posted online and quickly spread through social media late last week.
“We apologize for the insensitive language appearing in the letter and regret any difficulty it caused. We have corrected our letters, removed the prior authorization requirement for Truvada and members can fill their prescription at the network pharmacy of their choice,” a spokesperson for the company wrote in an email to NBC News Friday night.
The monthlong controversy started with a pre-authorization denial letter sent to Thomas Ciganko, a New York man whose physician prescribed Truvada for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). While the rejection came as a surprise, the stated reason was the real shock…
…Ciganko said he was “very angry” upon reading the letter. “I felt like they were saying, ‘You people are different, and your behavior is not within our moral code,’” he told NBC News.
Ciganko shared the letter with HIV advocates from ACT UP New York and Treatment Action Group, who spread the word about the incident through social media, press interviews and an online petition to the New York State Health Commissioner.