California Legislature Approves Bill That Would Allow Pharmacies To Sell Needles Without Prescriptions
The California Legislature yesterday sent to Gov. Gray Davis (D) a bill (SB 774) that would allow pharmacies to sell up to 30 hypodermic syringes to an adult without a prescription, the Los Angeles Times reports. The bill, sponsored by Sen. John Vasconcellos (D), aims to reduce the incidence of needle sharing among drug users, which contributes to the spread of HIV, hepatitis C and other bloodborne diseases (Halper/Ingram, Los Angeles Times, 9/5). Davis last year vetoed a similar bill (SB 1785), which was also sponsored by Vasconcellos, because it did not require a one-on-one needle exchange, which is the design of needle distribution programs already authorized in the state. California law currently requires a prescription to purchase syringes, except when used to inject adrenaline or insulin (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/1/02). According to the Times, the new measure addresses Davis' concerns by including a sunset provision that would end the program in 2007; an evaluation of the program's effectiveness by the state Office of AIDS; and a requirement that participating pharmacies offer needle disposal services. If Davis signs the bill, California will become the 46th state to allow needle provision without a prescription (Los Angeles Times, 9/5). According to a release from the Drug Policy Alliance, it is uncertain whether Davis will sign the measure (Drug Policy Alliance release, 9/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.