N.J. approves OTC sales of syringes

The New Jersey Assembly has voted on whether to give final legislative approval to a measure allowing over-the-counter sales of syringes.

Update, 5:30 p.m.

The New Jersey Assembly has approved the syringe purchase bill by a vote of 54-24.

New Jersey and Delaware are now the only two states that require a prescription to obtain syringes. The legislation would allow the sale of up to 10 needles to anyone age 18 or older.

That will make it easier for diabetes patients to get syringes and will also curb the spread of AIDS caused by drug users sharing dirty needles, said Assemblyman Reed Gusciora.

He said he does not expect it will cause more people to use illegal drugs.

“I think people have to ask themselves that if they have intravenous needles available would they take up drug abuse,” said Gusciora. “I doubt that few would make that choice just because they could purchase syringes over the counter.”

The director of the New Jersey Drug Policy Alliance said OTC sales of syringes will help reduce the spread of AIDS caused by sharing dirty needles, and that will save money.

“Lifetime AIDS care for one person is over $600,000,” said Roseann Scotti. “A clean needle in a pharmacy will cost people 25 to 50 cents and they’re using their own money to pay for it.”

Gov. Chris Christie has not indicated whether he will sign the bill.

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