San Francisco Board of Supervisors Votes To Allow Pharmacies To Sell Syringes Without Prescriptions
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance that would allow city Walgreens and Rite Aid pharmacies to sell syringes to people who do not have a doctor's prescription, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Herel, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/23). Under a new law (SB 1159) that went into effect Jan. 1, cities and counties in California can authorize pharmacies to sell up to 10 sterile syringes at a time to an adult without a prescription. California law previously required prescriptions to purchase syringes, except when used to inject adrenaline or insulin. Under the new law, the state Department of Health Services is responsible for evaluating local syringe sales and must report back to the state Legislature and pharmacies selling syringes without prescriptions must register with their county health department. Pharmacies also must provide educational and referral information and written and verbal counseling to people purchasing syringes without a prescription (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/6). San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who co-sponsored the city measure with Supervisors Tom Ammiano and Ross Mirkarimi, said that allowing injection drug users to buy syringes directly from pharmacies without a doctor's prescription will help to prevent the spread of HIV, according to the Chronicle. Approximately 20% of the city's 20,000 injection drug users are HIV-positive and 80% have hepatitis C, according to Dufty. Although the city already has needle-exchange programs where injection drugs users can exchange used syringes for clean ones, Dufty said the measure is necessary because the needle-exchange programs cannot reach every part of San Francisco, according to the Chronicle. If the board approves the measure again next week after a second hearing, it will go to Mayor Gavin Newsom (D), who is expected to sign it, the Chronicle reports (San Francisco Chronicle, 2/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.