Illinois Senate Passes Bill Allowing Hypodermic Needle Purchases Without Prescriptions
The Illinois Senate on Monday approved 30-24 a bill (SB 880) that would allow individuals to purchase hypodermic needles from pharmacies without a doctor's prescription, the Chicago Tribune reports. Supporters of the bill said that allowing people to purchase needles and syringes over-the-counter would help curb the spread of HIV and other diseases. If the measure becomes law, anyone age 18 or older would be able to buy up to 20 needles at a time from a pharmacy. The pharmacy would also have to offer the buyer educational materials on drug treatment and safe needle disposal. The Illinois Department of Public Health would pay for the materials, which would cost approximately $100,000 in the first year (McCann, Chicago Tribune, 3/25). Opponents of the bill said that the measure would "encourage" drug use because needles would be readily available, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. "We have young people ... that don't have too much sense and sometimes they want to try something," Sen. Adeline Geo-Karis (R) said (Wetterich, Chicago Sun-Times, 3/25). Sen. Steve Rauschenberger (R), a co-sponsor of the measure, said, "Some people use drugs no matter what. What has been proven in other states is, if there is access to legally possess sterile needles, there is a reduced amount of hepatitis and HIV/AIDS in that population" (Chicago Tribune, 3/25). Sen. Barack Obama (D) said that making sterile needles more readily available will reduce the number of HIV infections among injection drug users and decrease the risk of infection for individuals who are in sexual relationships with drug users (Chicago Sun-Times, 3/25). Other than Illinois, only four other states -- California, Delaware, Massachusetts and New Jersey -- require prescriptions to buy needles, according to the Tribune. The bill now goes to the state House (Chicago Tribune, 3/25).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.