Bill Allowing Over-The-Counter Needle Sales in California is Faulty, Editorial Says
A bill (SB 1785) currently in the California Legislature that would allow adults to purchase up to 30 hypodermic needles at licensed pharmacies without obtaining a doctor's prescription contains a "huge flaw" because it does not require people who purchase needles to exchange used ones, a Bakersfield Californian editorial states. The editorial notes that the lack of a prescription is "the reason intravenous drug [users] share needles," adding that the bill would help curb the traffic of used needles by removing this barrier. The measure "does nothing to take the infected needles off the street because it does not mandate an exchange" of the type that is conducted in needle-exchange programs, the editorial says. The editorial states that needle-exchange programs typically allow people to change used needles for sterile ones and provide counseling for users on sterilization procedures and safe sex practices to reduce the spread of HIV. If drug users are not required to bring in used needles for disposal, they may "pass the used and infected [needles] on to less fortunate fellow users," the editorial says. The editorial concludes, "The question that has to be answered ... is whether this halfway approach compounds the problem rather than reduc[ing] it. ... As a matter of political reality, needle-exchange programs should be a local option -- but only with a true exchange and disposal requirement" (Bakersfield Californian, 6/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.