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Pharmacists, Injection Drug Users, and Syringe Access

KEY POINT

Pharmacists are the health professionals with just the right mix of professional knowledge and accessibility when it comes to providing sterile syringes to people who inject illicit drugs, according to many members of the public health community. In recently published articles and a special supplement to the Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association, researchers and opinion leaders maintained that pharmacists should be allowed to voluntarily and legally sell sterile syringes to injection drug users (IDUs) as a means of decreasing the spread of HIV and other blood-borne pathogens. These groups also call on pharmacy boards and professional organizations to inform pharmacists that selling syringes to IDUs is an acceptable professional practice.

SOURCES

Rich JD et al. Strategies to improve access to sterile syringes for injection drug users. AIDS Read. 2002;12(12):527–35.

Zellmer WA. Pharmacist involvement in needle exchange programs. Am Pharm. 1994;NS34(9):48–51.

Jones TS, Coffin PO. Preventing blood-borne infections through pharmacy syringe sales and safe community syringe disposal. J Am Pharm Assoc. 2002;42(suppl 2):S6–7. 

Coffin PO et al. More pharmacists in high-risk neighborhoods of New York City support selling syringes to injection drug users. J Am Pharm Assoc. 2002;42(suppl 2):S62–7.

Klein SJ et al. Promoting safe syringe disposal goes “hand in hand” with expanded syringe access in New York State. J Am Pharm Assoc. 2002;42(suppl 2):S105–7.