San Francisco Law Allowing Pharmacies To Sell Syringes Without Prescriptions Takes Effect
A new law that allows pharmacies in San Francisco to sell syringes to people who do not have a doctor's prescription took effect on Tuesday, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Herel, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/12). Under a state 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. The law requires the state Department of Health Services to evaluate local syringe sales and report back to the state Legislature. 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. California law previously required prescriptions to purchase syringes, except when used to inject adrenaline or insulin. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors in February unanimously approved the ordinance to allow the sale of syringes without a doctor's prescription. 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 prevent the spread of HIV. Approximately 20% of the city's 20,000 injection drug users are HIV-positive and 80% have hepatitis C, according to Dufty (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/24). All city Walgreens stores will participate in the program, according to the Chronicle. The syringes are being sold for about 50 cents each, and customers are not required to give their names (San Francisco Chronicle, 4/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.