Pharmacy access to sterile syringes for injection drug users: attitudes of participants in a syringe exchange program.

B. Junge, D. Vlahov, E. Riley, S. Huettner, M. Brown, P. Beilenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To examine attitudes of participants of a van-based syringe exchange program (SEP) toward the hypothetical prospect of pharmacy-based syringe access. DESIGN: One-time, cross-sectional survey. SETTING: Baltimore, Maryland. PARTICIPANTS: 206 injection drug users who participate in the Baltimore SEP. INTERVENTIONS: Face-to-face interviews. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Location preferred for obtaining syringes, drug and syringe use, past experience with pharmacies, and willingness to pay. RESULTS: The sample was 67% men, 95% African American, and 95% unemployed; mean age was 39.8 years. A total of 19% of respondents had bought syringes at a pharmacy during the prior six months. Some 37% reported having been turned down when asking for syringes at a pharmacy, most commonly due to lack of identification to prove diabetic status (50%). If legal restrictions were lifted, 92% of respondents would obtain syringes from pharmacies, and would be willing to pay a mean price of $0.80 (median = $1.00) per syringe. Women were more likely than men to report the intention to switch from van-based SEP to pharmacy (57% versus 38%, p = .045). CONCLUSION: If current legal restrictions were lifted, pharmacies would be a viable syringe source appealing particularly to women, suggesting gender-specific access issues that should be addressed. The per-syringe price that study participants would be willing to pay exceeds typical retail prices, suggesting that pharmacists could charge enough per syringe to recoup operational costs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-22
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Pharmaceutical Association (Washington,D.C. : 1996)
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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