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Conaway Bill to Require Pharmacies to Sell Hypodermic Syringes & Needles to Promote & Protect Public Health Interests Advances in Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D. to require pharmacies in the state to sell hypodermic needles and syringes to any customer over the age of 18 was approved Thursday by the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee.

Current law allows, but does not require, pharmacies to sell syringes without a prescription to any customer over the age of 18, or with a prescription in quantities of more than 10. The law also requires information about the safe disposal of used syringes and needles, as well as information about substance abuse treatment be made available to individuals at the time of purchase.

“The purpose of the current law is to both facilitate access to individuals who use syringes or needles to administer medication, such as diabetic insulin users, as well as to help make clean syringes and needles available to intravenous drug users, thereby helping prevent the spread of bloodborne diseases such as HIV and HCV,” said Conaway, who chairs the committee. “While commendable, the law simply allows for this; it doesn’t require it, which kind of negates the purpose. Making it a requirement can help promote the public health interests that the original law sought to advance.”

The bill (A-3741) would require pharmacies to sell hypodermic needles and syringes to any customer over the age of 18. Under the bill, quantities of between 1 and 10 could be sold without a prescription, while quantities of more than 10 could only be sold with a valid prescription.

The bill would also require pharmacies to post a sign at the pharmacy sales counter advising consumers of the right to purchase syringes pursuant to the bill.