California Bill That Would Allow OTC Sale of Syringes ‘Better Alternative Than Poisoned Needles,’ Editorial Says
Although California legislators cannot stop injection drug users from "shooting up," they can "give them a better alternative than poisoned needles" by passing a bill (SB 1159) that would permit the sale of syringes without a doctor's prescription, a Los Angeles Times editorial says (Los Angeles Times, 8/19). The bill, sponsored by state 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 diseases. California law currently requires a prescription to purchase syringes, except when used to inject adrenaline or insulin (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/13). More than 26,000 injection drug users in California have become infected with HIV because of needle sharing and "untold numbers more" people have subsequently contracted HIV from those users, the editorial says. Opponents of over-the-counter syringe sales are "absurd to suppose that anyone would opt to start taking illegal drugs" just because clean needles are available, the Times says, concluding that there "is no evidence" that the 45 states with OTC syringe sales have a higher rate of injection drug use (Los Angeles Times, 8/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.