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Non-Prescription Sale of Syringes in Pharmacies

On January 1, 2012, Senate Bill (SB) 41 (Yee, Chapter 738, Statutes of 2011) went into effect as part of statewide efforts to reduce the spread of HIV and other blood-borne pathogens. The new law removes restrictions on pharmacy practices to allow nonprescription sale of syringes (NPSS) in licensed pharmacies throughout the state.

Overview

SB 41 removes restrictions on pharmacy practices to allow nonprescription sale of syringes (NPSS) in licensed pharmacies throughout the state.

  • Pharmacies may now sell up to 30 syringes without a prescription to adults 18 years of age or older for disease prevention purposes.
  • Pharmacies may provide NPSS under their current licenses; they are not required to register with the county or state health department in order to provide NPSS.
  • Pharmacies may sell up to 30 syringes per transaction.
  • Pharmacists are not required to keep a log of NPSS sales: the log book requirement was removed from state statue in 2004.
  • Pharmacists are not required to check customer identification in order to provide NPSS.
  • Adults anywhere in the state are now permitted to possess up to 30 syringes for personal use.
  • The law sunsets January 1, 2015.
  • Download SB 41 Fact Sheet (PDF)Opens in a new browser window.

Requirements for Pharmacies                                            

  • Pharmacies may choose whether or not to offer NPSS.
  • Pharmacies that offer NPSS must:
      • Store needles and syringes in a manner that ensures that they are not accessible to unauthorized persons; 
      • Provide for the safe disposal of needles and syringes through any or all of the following: sale or provision of sharps waste containers, sale or provision of sharps waste mail-back containers, or onsite collection of sharps waste;
      • Provide written information or verbal counseling to customers at the time of sale on how to:
        • access drug treatment;
        • access testing and treatment for HIV and HCV; and
        • safely dispose of sharps waste.
  • Pharmacists may download the Patient Information Sheet (Word)Opens in a new browser window.developed by the California Department of Public Health, Office of AIDS to meet these requirements. The Patient Information Sheet can be customized to include local information and referrals as needed.

Why was the law changed?

  • This change in pharmacy practice builds on the success of the Disease Prevention Demonstration Project (DPDP), a pilot program established in 2005 to assess the long-term desirability of allowing pharmacies to sell nonprescription syringes in order to prevent the spread of blood-borne pathogens such as HIV and viral hepatitis.
  • The evaluation of the pilot (PDF)Opens in a new browser window.found that in jurisdictions where NPSS was made available, injection drug users surveyed were less likely to report sharing needles and syringes.
  • No evidence of elevated crime rates was found in LHJs that authorized a local DPDP, and no evidence was found that DPDPs resulted in an increase of unsafe discard of syringes within participating LHJs. Numerous additional studies have found that improved syringe access reduces the rate of HIV transmission, without increasing rates of drug use, drug injection, or crime.
  • NPSS is standard practice in most U.S. states and is endorsed by both the American Pharmacists Association and the California Pharmacists Association.

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Last modified on: 5/22/2014 12:57 PM