The New York Times - December 14, 2011
The New Jersey State Assembly made a sensible, life-saving
decision this month when it approved a bill[http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/12/nj_assembly_passes_bill_to_all.html] that allows
pharmacies to sell a limited number of syringes to individuals
without prescriptions. The bill[http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2010/Bills/A1500/1088_I1.PDF] has passed the Senate, and Gov.
Chris Christie should sign it into law. It will help New Jersey
reduce the spread of H.I.V.
Intravenous drug users who likely contracted the virus that
causes AIDS from contaminated needles have accounted for more
than 40 percent of the state's more than 73,000 cases of people
living with H.I.V. or AIDS, according to the state health
department[http://www.state.nj.us/health/aids/documents/qtr1210.pdf]. Data from around the globe have long shown that
giving addicts access to clean needles can reduce the spread of
infection without increasing rates of addiction.
In 2006, New Jersey became one of the last states in the country
to authorize at least some access to clean needles. A 2010 state
analysis of the five local needle-exchange programs that opened
beginning a year later determined that they held "great promise"
for slowing the transmission of blood-borne diseases of all
kinds, including H.I.V./AIDS, and have been instrumental in
recruiting addicts into treatment.
The pending New Jersey law, similar to one passed in New York in
2000, would allow pharmacies to sell to adults as many as 10
syringes at a time without a prescription. The pharmacies would
also be required to provide these customers with instructions for
safe needle disposal and information on treatment programs. The
pharmacy bill is an important step, but it is still no substitute
for needle-exchange programs, which need to be greatly expanded.