New Advertising Campaign Touts Bill to Allow Needle Sales Without a Doctor’s Prescription
Proponents of a bill (SB 1785) that would allow adults to purchase as many as 30 hypodermic needles at licensed pharmacies without a doctor's prescription have launched an advertising campaign to promote the legislation, the AP/Long Beach Press-Telegram reports (AP/Long Beach Press-Telegram, 6/5). State law currently requires a prescription to purchase needles, except for those used to inject adrenaline or insulin. The bill would require pharmacies to store syringes so that they are available only to authorized personnel and not openly available to customers. The legislation also would require pharmacists to provide an on-site safe syringe disposal program and information on drug treatment and disease prevention (California Healthline, 5/24). The bill, approved in the Senate 21-12 last month, has moved to the Assembly, where "moderate Democrats and Republicans have vowed to kill it" (Rojas, Sacramento Bee, 6/5).
The ads, launched by Californians for Responsible Syringe Policy, depict the "reality of HIV and hepatitis C's impact on hard-working families" (California Pharmacists Association release, 6/5). One ad features a "young mother who contracted [HIV] through the use of a needle contaminated with infected blood" (Herdt, Ventura County Star, 6/6). In the ad, the woman states that she never used drugs but contracted HIV from her husband, who shared needles with other drug users. The ad also says that allowing licensed pharmacies to sell clean needles without a prescription is "proven to slow the spread of [HIV] and hepatitis without increasing drug use or crime." The second ad portrays a man who contracted HIV and hepatitis C from a contaminated needle before he stopped using drugs 15 years ago (Californians for Responsible Syringe Policy Web site, 6/5). The ads, sponsored by the Center for Policy Reform, will air in English and Spanish on cable stations throughout the state. The California Pharmacists Association, the California Medical Association and the California Nurses Association support the bill (California Pharmacists Association release, 6/5). California is one of six states that require a prescription for the purchase of hypodermic needles (AP/Contra Costa Times, 6/5). The first ad is available online.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.