SENATE HEALTH, HUMAN SERVICES AND SENIOR CITIZENS COMMITTEE

 

STATEMENT TO

 

SENATE, No. 958

 

with committee amendments

 

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

 

DATED:  JANUARY 20, 2011

 

      The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee reports favorably and with amendments Senate Bill No. 958.

      As amended by committee, this bill permits the limited sale by pharmacies of hypodermic syringes and needles without a prescription in order to make these instruments more accessible to New Jersey residents seeking to protect their own health, and to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and other bloodborne diseases.

      Specifically, the bill provides that:

·      A licensed pharmacy may sell a hypodermic syringe or needle, or any other instrument adapted for the administration of drugs by injection, to a person over 18 years of age:

-- without a prescription if sold in quantities of 10 or fewer; and

-- pursuant to a prescription issued by a person authorized to prescribe under State law if sold in quantities of more than 10.

·      Notwithstanding any State law, rule, or regulation to the contrary, possession of a hypodermic syringe or needle without a prescription would not be a violation of N.J.S.2C:36-1 et seq. (the statute governing drug paraphernalia).

·      A person who purchases a hypodermic syringe or needle and sells it to another person would be guilty of a disorderly persons offense (punishable by imprisonment for up to 6 months, or a fine of up to $1,000, or both).

·      A pharmacy that sells hypodermic syringes or needles, or any other instrument adapted for the administration of drugs by injection, must:

-- keep its supply under or behind the sales counter and accessible only to a person standing behind the sales counter; and

-- make available at the time of purchase information (in English or Spanish, as appropriate) developed by the New Jersey State Board of Pharmacy about safe disposal, including local disposal locations or a telephone number to call for that information, as well as contact information about substance abuse treatment resources.

·      The New Jersey State Board of Pharmacy shall, in consultation with the Department of Health and Senior Services, develop information about safe disposal of used syringes and needles and about resources for substance abuse treatment.  The board shall make the information available to pharmacies and purchasers of syringes and needles on its internet website.

·      The bill takes effect on the 180th day after enactment, but the State Board of Pharmacy may take necessary anticipatory administrative action.

      The committee amendments:

      -- provide that the unauthorized sale or distribution of a syringe or needle would be a disorderly persons offense, rather than a crime of the fourth degree as the bill originally provided, to make the penalty consistent with the penalty in N.J.S.2C:36-6 for a similar offense;

      -- direct the State Board of Pharmacy, in consultation with the Department of Health and Senior Services, to develop information about safe disposal of used syringes and needles and about resources for substance abuse treatment, and provide that the board shall make the information available to pharmacies and purchasers on its internet website;

      -- replace the term “drug addiction treatment” with “substance abuse treatment”; and

      -- delete the repeal of N.J.S.2C:36-6, which restricts the possession and use of a hypodermic syringe or needle without a valid prescription, since that repeal is no longer necessary due to the enactment of P.L.2006, c.99, the “Bloodborne Disease Harm Reduction Act."

      This bill is similar to Assembly Bill No.1088 (Gusciora/Johnson), which is pending before the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee.