Gov. Christie signs syringe access bill to prevent spread of HIV/AIDS
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday brought the state in line with the rest of the nation by permitting pharmacies to sell over-the-counter hypodermic needles.
The governor signed a bill into law that allows pharmacies to sell hypodermic syringes and needles without a prescription in order to make these instruments more accessible to New Jersey residents.
“This law will help curb the transmission of HIV/AIDS and other bloodborne diseases and allow people who are diabetic to readily have syringes for their use,” said Assemblymen Reed Gusciora (D), who sponsored the bill. “This sensible and controlled approach will enable syringe users to take personal responsibility for both their health and the health of others and hopefully get them on a path to treatment.”
Although syringe access programs existed in New Jersey since 2006, New Jersey was one of only two states that completely banned over-the-counter sales of syringes. Delaware is now the only state that bans sales of syringes.
“This is about being proactive rather than sitting on our hands hoping IV drug users won’t share needles when the availability of them is scarce,” said Assemblymen Craig Coughlin (D), who also sponsored the bill. “Equally important, this law will require pharmacies to provide information on substance abuse treatment options to hopefully inspire at least a portion of the population to seek a better alternative.”
Under the law, pharmacies can only sell a syringe to a person over 18 years of age without a prescription. Those without a prescription are also limited to buying ten syringes or less. Pharmacies are also required to keep the syringes behind the counter and inaccessible to the public.
Anyone who purchases a hypodermic syringe or needle and sells that needle or syringe to another person will be guilty of a disorderly persons offense, which is punishable by imprisonment for up to 6 months, or a fine of up to $1,000, or both.