Starting next year, patients in California will be able to receive HIV prevention drugs without a prescription.

A bill signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday authorizes pharmacists to furnish pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to those who are at high risk of contracting HIV and dispense post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to people who may have been exposed to the virus. According to NPR, the California state Legislature voted to pass the measure—Senate Bill 159—in both of its chambers last month.

A number of physician groups opposed the legislation, citing safety concerns over long-term use without a doctor's oversight. The California Medical Association eventually withdrew its opposition after an amendment that would limit PreP prescriptions to 60 days; after that timeframe, a patient will be required to consult with a doctor to continue use.

The bill, which was spearheaded by state Sen. Scott Wiener, also allows patients to purchase the medication without obtaining prior authorization from their insurance companies. Under the law, pharmacists will be required to provide instructions on how to take the drugs, as well as provide information on the possible side effects.

"Recent breakthroughs in the prevention and treatment of HIV can save lives," Gov. Newsom said after signing SB 159. "All Californians deserve access to PrEP and PEP, two treatments that have transformed our fight against HIV and AIDS. I applaud the Legislature for taking action to expand access to these treatments and getting us closer to ending HIV and AIDS for good."