Pharmacists' attitudes about pharmacy sale of needles/syringes and needle exchange programs in a city without needle/syringe prescription laws

Alice A. Gleghorn, Gilbert Gee, David Vlahov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


We assessed pharmacists' practices for needle and syringe (NS) sales and their attitudes toward a needle exchange program through a telephone survey of 75 randomly selected pharmacies in Baltimore, Maryland, where possession of drug paraphernalia is illegal but where NS can be purchased without a prescription. Pharmacists' (n = 46) procedures for NS sales included asking for picture identification (54%), requiring a prescription (34%), or requiring a diabetic identification (DID, 34%) for NS purchase; multiple responses were allowed. The median number of prescription and nonprescription NS sold per month was 950. Most (86.6%) pharmacists reported selling NS without prescriptions at their discretion. Pharmacists sold a median of 16 nonprescription NS per month. Pharmacists who required prescriptions or DID (56.5%) sold nonprescription NS significantly less often than those who did not require prescriptions or DID (p = .007). Most pharmacists (87%) were aware of the needle exchange program, 78.3% supported the program, and 67.4% supported selling nonprescription NS in pharmacies. Although there was no difference in anticipated effects of needle exchange or in support for needle exchange between pharmacists who did or did not require prescriptions, DID, or both, pharmacists who did require then items were significantly less likely to support pharmacy sales of nonprescription NS than pharmacists with less restrictive sales policies (p = .04). Although most pharmacists surveyed supported access to sterile NS by injection drug users through a needle exchange program, there was a diversity of approaches to nonprescription NS sales among pharmacists in a city that does not require prescriptions for access to sterile NS. Most supported nonpharmacy needle exchange programs, and more than one half limited injection drug users' access to NS through restrictive sales practices. To reduce injection drag users' exposure to HIV, pharmacists should he educated about HIV prevention and injection drug use and he included in development of HIV prevention programs, including legal pharmacy NS sales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S89-S93
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes and Human Retrovirology
Issue numberSUPPL.
StatePublished - Jul 1 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • HIV
  • Intravenous drug use
  • Laws
  • Needles
  • Pharmacy
  • Substance abuse
  • Syringes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Virology


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