Alameda County Supervisors Approve Program To Allow Pharmacies To Sell Syringes Without Prescriptions
The Alameda County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution to implement a program to allow pharmacists to distribute syringes without a prescription, the Oakland Tribune reports. The program is permitted under a bill (SB 1159) that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) enacted in September 2004.
Under the resolution, pharmacists will be able to sell or give away 10 or fewer syringes to residents ages 18 or older without a prescription. Pharmacists must register with the county health department and provide people receiving syringes information on drug treatment programs and proper disposal of needles.
The county Office on AIDS Administration will maintain the list of participating pharmacies and provide pharmacies with information to distribute to people receiving needles.
Alameda County Public Health Officer Anthony Iton said, "When injection drug users are unable to buy clean syringes, they resort to sharing dirty ones. This law will prevent many cases of HIV and hepatitis C infection and ultimately will save many lives."
Iton said that 25% of HIV cases in the county could be attributed to sharing used needles.
In addition, at least 26,000 county residents have contracted hepatitis C by using dirty needles, according to county officials (Vesely, Oakland Tribune, 3/30).