Mass. Senate Delays Vote on Bill That Would Allow Nonprescription Sale of Hypodermic Needles
The Massachusetts Senate on Thursday postponed a vote on bill S 1312 that would authorize the nonprescription sale of syringes to people age 18 and older to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and other bloodborne diseases, after Senate Minority Leader Brian Lees (R) objected to the legislation, the Boston Globe reports (Ebbert, Boston Globe, 5/5). The bill is sponsored by Sen. Robert O'Leary. The state House in November 2005 voted to approve similar legislation (H 4176) that would require pharmacists dispensing the needles to provide consumers with a brochure created by the state Department of Public Health. The brochure includes information about the proper use and disposal of syringes and needles, the risk of contracting bloodborne diseases through such devices and the state's toll-free number for HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C information (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/2). Lees' objection will delay a vote on the bill for at least a week and possibly up to several weeks because the Legislature is about to consider the state budget. Lees objected to the measure on procedural grounds, saying it would help illicit drug users break the law. He said that he would suggest amendments to the bill when it returns to the agenda (Boston Globe, 5/5). The state health department supports the measure. About 39% of HIV cases in Massachusetts are linked to injection drug use (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.