Los Angeles City Council Votes To Allow Pharmacies To Sell Syringes Without Prescriptions
The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday approved 12-0 an ordinance that would allow pharmacies in the city to sell syringes to people without a doctor's prescription, the Los Angeles Times reports (Hymon, Los Angeles Times, 3/10). 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, 2/24). HIV/AIDS advocates have "long sought" an ordinance to allow the sale of syringes at pharmacies because they believe the availability of clean syringes will help reduce the spread of HIV among injection drug users, according to the Times. Under the ordinance, pharmacies can choose whether to sell syringes, and Walgreens already has decided to do so, according to the Times. Los Angeles currently spends about $500,000 annually to support seven needle-exchange programs in the city, and the new measure is intended to be another way to reach injection drug users who do not use the exchanges, according to the Times. To become law, the ordinance must be signed by Mayor James Hahn (D) (Los Angeles Times, 3/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.