The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA

4088.0: Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - Board 6

Abstract #41514

Syringe access policy in the United States

Scott Burris, JD1, S.A. Strathdee, PhD2, and Jon Vernick, JD, MPH2. (1) Temple University Law School, 1719 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122, 215-204-6576,, (2) School Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, 615 North Wolfe Street, E6010, Baltimore, MD 21205

The sharing and reuse of syringes is a significant threat to public health in the United States. Syringes are scarce because of public policies designed to make it harder for injection drug users to obtain and carry them. Most states have drug paraphernalia laws that make it a crime for any person to possess or sell items intended to facilitate drug use. Many states have pharmacy regulations that set limits on the sale of syringes. A significant minority of states require a prescription to buy a syringe. Early in the epidemic, both law-makers and public health advocates focused on the question of authorizing needle-exchange programs. Needle exchange has become increasingly controversial, however, and the passage of laws authorizing NEPs has become increasingly difficult. Experience has shown, too, that needle exchange programs cannot alone provide the syringes necessary to do the job for public health. Other means including pharmacy sales, physician prescription, and even vending machine sales have been tried or proposed, and all are to some extent in conflict with syringe access laws. Early legal reviews suggested that over-the-counter syringe sales were prohibited in most states. A new, more detailed analysis finds otherwise: retails syringe sales to IDU are legal or have a reasonable claim to legality in 40 states. Moreover, since 1997, five states have deregulated syringe sales as a means of preventing HIV. New data on syringe disposal and syringe exchange laws are also presented.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Drug Abuse, Needle Sharing Exposure

Related Web page:

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: The work presented was commissioned by the Substance Abuse Policy Research Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Special Populations and Substance Abuse Poster Session I

The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA