New Jersey: Measure to Allow Syringe Sales at Pharmacies Advances
January 24, 2011
On Thursday, a New Jersey Senate committee voted 6-3 to approve a bill that would authorize pharmacy sales of syringes to persons without a prescription. Access to sterile syringes at drug stores is "the next level of reform" to help injection drug users (IDUs), said state Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex), one of the bill's sponsors.
"This isn't about judging individuals who are addicted to intravenous drugs, but about slowing the spread of HIV/AIDS," said Vitale.
James Carrington, a patient-advocate with the Hyacinth AIDS Foundation in New Brunswick, praised the NEPs. However, because they are "only available in five cities, many individuals are unable to reach these programs because of the distance to these sites due to their work schedules and issues with confidentiality." "As a client and former drug user, if I had access to clean syringes, I believe that I would not have become HIV-infected," he said.
Karen Walker, who works at the Paterson Counseling Center's NEP, said she knows some IDUs "who would prefer to go to a pharmacy."
In the committee, Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Essex) voted against the measure, saying it did not help the individual IDU or community. "You've got the needles, now come here and fight for drug treatment," Rice said. "That's what you should be doing."
The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)
01.21.2011; Susan K. Livio
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