New Jersey Senate to Vote This Thursday on Sterile Syringe Access Legislation to Prevent the Spread of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C

Press Release February 14, 2011
Media Contact

Roseanne Scotti at 609-610-8243</p>

Trenton – On Thursday, February 17th, the New Jersey State Senate will consider life-saving legislation to allow for the sale of limited numbers of syringes in pharmacies without a prescription. The senate voting session is scheduled to begin at 2PM. New Jersey is one of only two states (the other state is Delaware) that completely ban over-the-counter sales of syringes.

Senate Bill 958 is sponsored by Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), Senator Joseph F. Vitale (D-Middlesex) and Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-Middlesex). The legislation would also benefit diabetics and others who must use injectable medications by making it easier for them to access syringes. Senate Bill 958 passed the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee by a vote of 6 to 3 on January 20th.

This reasonable and common-sense legislation was passed by the New Jersey Assembly twice in the past, most recently in 2006. If the bill were to pass the Senate, it would need to be considered again by the Assembly. The Assembly companion bill is A1088 and is sponsored by Assemblymen Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) and Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen). New Jersey is one of only two states that require a prescription to purchase a syringe in a pharmacy (the other is Delaware).

Advocates are urging committee members to vote yes on this important bill. “It is long past time that New Jersey joined the overwhelming majority of states that allow for over-the-counter sales of syringes," said Roseanne Scotti, Director of the Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey. “Allowing for over-the-counter sales of syringes will save New Jersey money by allowing those at risk for HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C to use their own money to protect their own health. In addition, the legislation would benefit diabetics and others who must use injectable medications." In the last several years, states including Pennsylvania, Illinois and Massachusetts have passed laws allowing for sales of syringes without a prescription.

Senate Bill 958 is supported by a long list of public health and advocacy organizations including: the American Diabetes Association, the Garden State Association of Diabetes Educators, the New Jersey State Nurses Association, the New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians, the New Jersey Deputy Fire Chiefs Association, the Garden State Pharmacy Owners, the New Jersey Pharmacists Association, New Jersey Council of Chain Drug Stores, the New Jersey Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, Homeside Hospice, Hepatitis C Association, Hyacinth AIDS Foundation, the New Jersey Hospital Association, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, the New Jersey Women and AIDS Network, South Jersey AIDS Alliance, Camden Area Health Education Center and Well-of-Hope Drop-In Center.

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