Legislators Should Pass Clean Needle Sale Bill, Editorial States
The "staggering" human and economic cost of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C cases caused by needle sharing can be prevented "without increased crime or drug use" if state pharmacists are allowed to sell clean needles without prescriptions "as they do in 45 other states," a San Francisco Chronicle editorial says. According to the editorial, a poll of likely voters found that 59% support a bill (SB 1159) that would allow the sale of up to 10 clean syringes without a prescription to individuals ages 18 or older (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/28).
The bill, backed by Sen. John Vasconcellos (D-Santa Clara) and others, would allow over-the-counter sale of syringes to adults at pharmacies across California. The bill has passed the Legislature several times, but was vetoed each time by former Gov. Gray Davis (D). California is one of five states that does not allow over-the-counter sales of syringes, except with a prescription for insulin or epinephrine (California Healthline, 1/12). The bill's provisions would sunset in 2008, following analysis by health and police officials.
Resident taxpayers spend "millions of dollars" to treat people infected with HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C, treatment of which averages $20,000 a year per case, according to the editorial. SB 1159 is a "sensible policy that's working elsewhere and deserves to be tried" in the state, the editorial concludes (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/28).