California Senate to Hold Hearing Today on Pharmacy Sale of Syringes to Curb Spread of Infectious Disease

Press Release April 9, 2002
Media Contact

Oanh Ho at 916-445-9740 or Glenn Backes at 916-444-3751

SB 1785 would allow pharmacists to sell up to 30 syringes without a prescription to an adult 18 years or older as part of the state’s comprehensive plan to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C.

California is one of only six states that require a prescription in order to sell syringes to an adult. The medical and scientific research communities have overwhelmingly supported widening access to sterile syringes as an urgent public health measure. Sharing contaminated syringes is linked to 19 percent of all AIDS cases in California. 60 percent of new hepatitis C cases in the United States are attributable to syringe sharing.

“This legislation will save lives,” said Glenn Backes, director of health policy for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Studies have shown that providing clean needles reduces the risk of AIDS without increasing drug use.”

Witnesses testifying today in support of the bill will include associations of California doctors, nurses, pharmacists, drug treatment providers, AIDS and hepatitis service organizations, and major retailers including Walgreen’s.

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