California Assembly Health Committee Passes OTC Syringe Legislation
The California Assembly Health Committee has passed 13-2 a bill (SB 1785) that would allow adults to buy up to 30 hypodermic needles or syringes at a time at licensed pharmacies without a doctor's prescription, the Los Angeles Times reports. The bill, sponsored by state Sen. John Vasconcellos (D), has already passed the Senate and now moves to the Assembly Public Safety Committee (Los Angeles Times, 6/20). Current state law requires a prescription to buy needles unless they are used to inject adrenaline or insulin. If the bill is signed, California would join 44 other states with similar laws. However, the bill's prospects in the Assembly are not clear because the chamber previously defeated a similar bill considered by its health committee. Health care organizations, pharmacies and other supporters say that the bill would reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C and could save the state "millions" of dollars in health care costs by decreasing the incidence of shared needle usage. Opponents contend that the bill would allow for "easy access" to needles and would "condon[e]" drug use. They also object to the fact that dirty needles would not have to be exchanged for clean ones (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.