Press Release  | 02/17/2011

New Jersey Senate Passes Sterile Syringe Access Legislation to Prevent the Spread of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C

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Legislation Passes 28-12 with Bi-Partisan Support

Public Health and HIV Prevention Advocates Cheer Passage of Life-Saving Legislation

Trenton—Today, the New Jersey State Senate passed life-saving legislation to allow for the sale of limited numbers of syringes in pharmacies without a prescription. The legislation received bi-partisan support, passing by a vote of 28-12. New Jersey is one of only two states (the other state is Delaware) that completely ban over-the-counter sales of syringes.

Senate Bill 958 is sponsored by Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), Senator Joseph F. Vitale (D-Middlesex) and Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-Middlesex). The legislation would also benefit diabetics and others who must use injectable medications by making it easier for them to access syringes. Senate Bill 958 passed the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee by a vote of 6 to 3 on January 20th.

The bill must now make its way through the New Jersey Assembly, which has passed the bill twice in the last eight years. The Assembly companion bill is A1088 and is sponsored by Assemblymen Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) and Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen).

Advocates cheered the passage of the bill. "This is a victory for good public health policy," said Roseanne Scotti, Director of the Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey. "This legislation will cost the state nothing and will save lives and taxpayer dollars." In the last several years, states including Pennsylvania, Illinois and Massachusetts have passed laws allowing for sales of syringes without a prescription.

Senate Bill 958 is supported by a long list of public health and advocacy organizations including: the American Diabetes Association, the Garden State Association of Diabetes Educators, the New Jersey State Nurses Association, the New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians, the New Jersey Deputy Fire Chiefs Association, the Garden State Pharmacy Owners, the New Jersey Pharmacists Association, New Jersey Council of Chain Drug Stores, the New Jersey Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, Homeside Hospice, Hepatitis C Association, Hyacinth AIDS Foundation, the New Jersey Hospital Association, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, the New Jersey Women and AIDS Network, South Jersey AIDS Alliance, Camden Area Health Education Center and Well-of-Hope Drop-In Center.

Roseanne Scotti at 609-610-8243

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