California Senate Passes Bill to Allow Over-the-Counter Needle Sales
In an effort to reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis among drug users, the California Senate yesterday passed a bill (SB 1785) that would allow adults over age 18 to buy up to 30 hypodermic needles at licensed pharmacies without obtaining a doctor's prescription, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Current state law requires a prescription to buy needles unless they are used to inject adrenaline or insulin. The bill passed 21-12 and now goes to the state Assembly, which has defeated a similar bill that was considered by its health committee. California would join 44 other states with similar laws if the bill is signed (Lucas, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/24). The bill would require pharmacies to store syringes so that they are available only to "authorized personnel" and not openly available to customers (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/11). State Sen. John Vasconcellos (D), who wrote the bill, said, "This is not endorsing addiction. The bill just recognizes addicts are going to shoot up, and this bill helps them do that in a way that's not fatal to them or others." But state Sen. Bill Morrow (R), who voted against the legislation, said, "This bill allows addicts who share needles to have more needles to share. There will only be a proliferation of disease" (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.