Senate Passes Legislation to Allow Purchase of Needles Without a Doctor’s Prescription
The Senate yesterday passed a bill (SB 1785) that would allow adults to purchase as many as 30 hypodermic needles at licensed pharmacies without a doctor's prescription, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. State law currently requires a prescription to purchase needles, except for those used to inject adrenaline or insulin (Lucas, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/24). The bill, which passed 21-12, 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, 4/10). Sen. John Vasconcellos (D-Santa Clara), who proposed the bill to help reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis among illicit drug users, said, "This is not endorsing addiction. The bill just recognizes addicts are going to shoot up, and this bill helps them do that in a way that's not fatal to them or others." However, Sen. Bill Morrow (R-Oceanside), who voted against the legislation, said, "This bill allows addicts who share needles to have more needles to share. There will only be a proliferation of disease." The bill moves to the Assembly for consideration. The Assembly Health Committee has defeated similar legislation in the past, the Chronicle reports. Gov. Gray Davis (D) has not said whether he would support the bill. Forty-four states have similar laws (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/24).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.