Syringe Access & Disposal
As of January 1, 2015, pharmacists across California may sell or furnish any number of syringes to adults 18 and older without a prescription, as part of the state’s strategy to prevent the spread of HIV, hepatitis C, and other blood-borne pathogens. The law also allows adults to possess syringes for personal use, if acquired from a pharmacy, physician or authorized syringe exchange program.
Business and Professions Code Section 4145:
- Assembly Bill (AB) 1743 (Ting, Statutes of 2014) expands the role of pharmacists in this important work and removes prior restrictions on pharmacy practices. The overwhelming medical and scientific consensus is that "Non-Prescription Syringe Sale" (NPSS) helps slow the spread of hepatitis B & C, HIV and other blood-borne diseases without contributing to increased drug use, crime or unsafe discard of syringes.
- Allows pharmacies and physicians to furnish or sell any number of syringes without a prescription to adults 18 years or older. The bill removes the 30-syringe limit that had been been in place through 2014.
- To encourage safe disposal of sharps the law requires pharmacies to counsel customers on safe disposal and do at least ONE of the following:
- Make sharps containers available for purchase; and/or
- Make mail-back sharps disposal containers available for purchase; and/or
- Participate in syringe take-back and disposal.
Keep in mind:
- Counties do not have to authorize these sales.
- Pharmacies do not have to register with local health departments, keep logbooks, fill out paperwork, or ask for identification to sell syringes without a prescription.
How do we know it works?
How do we know it works?Researchers evaluated a pilot program in several counties in California, and found that, consistent with research findings from other states:
- People who inject drugs who purchased syringes from pharmacies were LESS likely to share injection equipment, reducing their risks of transmitting blood-borne diseases
- Participating pharmacists reported only minor challenges in implementing syringe sales.
- There was no increase in unsafe discard of syringes in the community.
CalHEP worked with hepatitis activists, HIV advocates, drug policy reformers, and the largest associations of pharmacists, physicians and nurses in the state to push AB 1743 by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D - San Francisco), to make syringe access through pharmacies legal in California. Now that it is law, we are part of an effort to educate pharmacists and encourage them to participate in the program and to provide information to the viral hepatitis community. Check back often for updated information and news.
Links and important documents:
- Key stakeholders' policies on syringe access
- Federal and State Reports Supporting Syringe Access
- Recent articles and studies