Massachusetts Senate Approves By Voice Vote Bill Authorizing Nonprescription Sale of Hypodermic Needles
The Massachusetts Senate last week approved by voice vote a bill (S 1312) -- which is sponsored by state Sen. Robert O'Leary (D) -- that would authorize the nonprescription sale of syringes to people age 18 and older as a means of reducing the spread of HIV, hepatitis C and other bloodborne diseases, the Springfield Republican reports (Ring, Springfield Republican, 6/2). The state House in November 2005 voted to approve similar legislation (H 4176), which would require pharmacists dispensing the needles to provide a brochure created by the state Department of Public Health with 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. The bill also would decriminalize possession of a hypodermic needle (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/2). The state Senate also voted 34-1 to approve an amendment sponsored by Sen. Bruce Tarr (R) that would criminalize the act of buying needles with the intent to resell them. To go to Gov. Mitt Romney (R) for consideration, the bill will have to be approved a couple more times in the state Senate and again in the House, the Republican reports (Springfield Republican, 6/2). Romney likely will veto the bill, his spokesperson Eric Fehrnstrom, said, adding that the governor "believes that removing prescription controls on hypodermic needles ... encourages heroin 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.