San Francisco Board of Supervisors Approve Syringe Distribution at Pharmacies
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance allowing intravenous drug users to buy hypodermic needles at pharmacies without a prescription, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Pharmacies would be able to provide as many as 10 syringes at a time to anyone 18 or older, as long as the pharmacies provide written or oral information on the testing and treatment of HIV and the hepatitis C virus.
Supervisor Bevan Dufty estimates that about 20,000 injection drug users live in San Francisco, 20% of whom are HIV-positive and 80% of whom carry the hepatitis C virus.
Under a state law that took effect Jan. 1, cities can permit pharmacies to sell needles to drug users as part of a demonstration project.
The Board of Supervisors will hold a second hearing on the measure next week, as required by San Francisco law. The ordinance then will go to Mayor Gavin Newsom (D), who will have 10 days to sign it into law, veto it or let it take effect without his signature. Newsom is expected to sign the ordinance, which would then take effect after 30 days (Herel, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/23).