Original Article: NYS Syringe Access Program

Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 77, Issue 4, pp 781-793

New York City pharmacists' attitudes toward sale of needles/syringes to injection drug users before implementation of law expanding syringe access

  • Phillip O. CoffinAffiliated withCenter for Urban Epidemiologic Studies, New York Academy of Medicine Email author 
  • , Benjamin P. LinasAffiliated withLindesmith Center-drug Policy Foundation
  • , Stephanie H. FactorAffiliated withCenter for Urban Epidemiologic Studies, New York Academy of Medicine
  • , David VlahovAffiliated withCenter for Urban Epidemiologic Studies, New York Academy of Medicine

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Abstract

In May 2000, New York State passed legislation permitting the sale, purchase, and possession of up to 10 needles and syringes (hereafter “syringes”) without a prescription, intended to reduce blood-borne pathogen transmission among injection drug users (IDUs). To obtain baseline data on pharmacists' attitudes and practices related to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention and IDUs, a telephone survey was administered to 130 pharmacists systematically selected in New York City. Less than half of pharmacists were aware of the new law; 49.6% were willing to or supported providing nonprescription sales of syringes to IDUs. Pharmacists in support tended to be less likely to consider customer appearance “very important.” Managing and supervising pharmacists were more likely than staff pharmacists to support syringe sales to IDUs. Managing and supervising pharmacists who stocked packs of 10 syringes and personal sharps disposal containers, pharmacists who supported syringe exchange in the pharmacy, and pharmacists who were willing to sell syringes to diabetics without a prescription were more likely to support syringe sales to IDUs. Syringe disposal was a prominent concern among all pharmacists. Those not in support of syringe sales to IDUs tended to be more likely to believe the practice would increase drug use. These data suggest the need for initiatives to address concerns about syringe disposal and tailored continuing education classes for pharmacists on HIV and viral hepatitis prevention among IDUs.