California: Folsom Cool to Needle Measure
September 20, 2005
At an Aug. 10 meeting, Sacramento County's Board of Supervisors postponed a vote on allowing the non-prescription sale of syringes by pharmacies until more input was gathered from the county's incorporated cities. The board will take up the issue again Oct. 18.
The Folsom City Council took a similarly cautious approach at its meeting on Sept. 13. Despite opposition to the proposal from three of the four members present, the council postponed a final vote until Sept. 27.
While public-health officials have long supported needle-access programs, law enforcement and public-safety officials worry about the potential danger to residents from improperly disposed needles and about sending the wrong message regarding drug use. At the city council meeting, county Health Officer Glennah Trochet stressed that the program is a disease-prevention measure to reduce transmission of blood-borne pathogens like HIV and hepatitis C: It should not be interpreted as either endorsing or combating IV drug use, she said.
According to a brief prepared by city staff, consequences of a "no" vote by the Folsom City Council are unclear, particularly if county supervisors eventually approve the plan. Because California law permits pharmacy needle sales only after receiving local government approval, the issue of a city rejecting the program in spite of approval at the county level might need to be resolved in court. Either way, strong opposition in Folsom and other cities in the county would send a message to the five supervisors, of whom only two strongly supported the plan.
09.18.05; Jim Downing
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.