California Should Allow Pharmacies to Distribute Sterile Needles, San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Says
State lawmakers should pass a bill (SB 1785) that would allow pharmacies to distribute sterile needles to adults, a San Francisco Chronicle editorial states. The bill would allow people ages 18 and older to purchase up to 30 needles at a pharmacy. "Thousands of lives have been saved" because of needle-exchange programs, but the programs do not reach all intravenous drug users, the editorial says. The Chronicle notes that 19% of California's AIDS cases and 60% of its hepatitis C cases are the result of contaminated needles. "Drug users pay with their lives, the state's taxpayers pay tens of millions of dollars to treat the sick and dying and police officers are at risk of getting stuck by dirty needles when they make arrests" because of California's "shortsighted policy," the editorial says. Selling needles in pharmacies "will not encourage or condone drug use," the editorial states, adding that the measure "simply recognizes that drug abuse is a reality and seeks to minimize its damage" (San Francisco Chronicle, 4/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.