, Volume 86, Issue 6, pp 946-950
Date: 12 May 2009

Who Purchases Nonprescription Syringes? Characterizing Customers of the Expanded Syringe Access Program (ESAP)

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This study represents the first attempt in the USA to survey pharmacy nonprescription syringe customers at their point of purchase. We surveyed 62 individuals purchasing nonprescription syringes in seven pharmacies located in NYC and Albany, NY, USA. Three quarters of respondents purchased for illicit use, and 36% purchased for medical use, with differences found by race and gender. Half got their syringes from pharmacies “most of the time.” Half had ever been refused a syringe purchase in a NYS pharmacy, with men, Blacks, and Hispanics reporting higher levels of refusals than women or whites. Two thirds reported syringe reuse but very few reported sharing. While approximately one quarter safely obtained and disposed of syringes “most of the time,” two thirds used both safe and unsafe methods. Pharmacy-based syringe access programs are essential in areas not served by syringe exchanges.