New Law Will Allow NJ Pharmacies To Sell Needles Over The Counter

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TRENTON – A bill that would bring New Jersey in line with the rest of the nation by permitting pharmacies to sell over-the-counter hypodermic needles in an effort to curb harmful blood-borne transmissions has been signed into law.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control, “Increased pharmacy sales of sterile syringes can help reduce the risk of acquiring and transmitting blood-borne viruses among intravenous drug users who continue to inject.”

“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 Assemblyman Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex), a sponsor of 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, a licensed pharmacy will be able to sell a hypodermic syringe or needle to a person over 18 years of age without a prescription if sold in quantities of 10 or less; or in quantities of more than 10 under an authorized prescription. Pharmacies selling hypodermic syringes or needles must keep their supply under or behind the sales counter and inaccessible to the public.

Pharmacies will also be required to provide each person who purchases any such instrument with information about the safe disposal of the instruments as well as substance abuse treatment options.

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.

Notwithstanding any state law, rule or regulation to the contrary, it will be legal to possess a hypodermic syringe or needle without a prescription under this law.

The provisions of the law will go into effect 180 days from today.

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