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Office of AIDS 

Information for Customers – Nonprescription Sale of Syringes


On January 1, 2012, Senate Bill (SB) 41 went into effect as part of statewide efforts to reduce the spread of HIV and viral hepatitis.

The new law allows nonprescription sale of syringes (NPSS) in pharmacies throughout the state.

  • Pharmacies may now sell up to 30 syringes without a prescription to adults 18 years of age or older for disease prevention purposes. 
  • Pharmacies may choose whether or not to offer NPSS. 
  • Pharmacies may sell up to 30 syringes per transaction.  
  • Pharmacists are not required to check customer identification in order to provide NPSS. 
  • Pharmacists are not required to keep a log of syringe sales. 
  • Adults anywhere in the state are now permitted to possess up to 30 syringes for personal use when acquired from an authorized source. Individuals may also possess an unlimited number of used syringes if they are containerized for disposal. 
  • Download fact sheet for pharmacists (PDF)Opens in a new browser window.

Participating Pharmacies

Requirements for Pharmacies

  • Pharmacies may choose whether or not to offer NPSS. 
  • Pharmacies that offer NPSS must:
    • Store needles and syringes in a manner that ensures that they are not accessible to unauthorized persons;   
    • Provide for the safe disposal of needles and syringes through any or all of the following: sale or provision of sharps waste containers, sale or provision of sharps waste mail-back containers, or onsite collection of sharps waste; 
    • Provide written information or verbal counseling to customers at the time of sale on how to:  
      • access drug treatment;
      • access testing and treatment for HIV and HCV; and
      • safely dispose of sharps waste.
  • Pharmacists may download the Patient Information Sheet (Word)Opens in a new browser window.developed by the California Department of Public Health, Office of AIDS to meet these requirements. The Patient Information Sheet can be customized to include local information and referrals as needed.

Why was the law changed?

  • This change in pharmacy practice builds on the success of the Disease Prevention Demonstration Project (DPDP), a pilot program established in 2005 to assess the long-term desirability of allowing pharmacies to sell nonprescription syringes in order to prevent the spread of blood-borne pathogens such as HIV and viral hepatitis. 
  • The evaluation of the pilot (PDF)Opens in a new browser window.found that in jurisdictions where NPSS was made available, injection drug users surveyed were less likely to report sharing needles and syringes. 
  • No evidence of elevated crime rates was found in jurisdictions that authorized a local DPDP, and no evidence was found that DPDPs resulted in an increase of unsafe discard of syringes within participating counties or cities. Numerous additional studies have found that improved syringe access reduces the rate of HIV transmission, without increasing rates of drug use, drug injection, or crime. 
  • NPSS is standard practice in most U.S. states and is endorsed by both the American Pharmacists Association and the California Pharmacists Association.

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Last modified on: 10/1/2014 1:44 PM