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Los Angeles city council approves needle sales

Los Angeles city council approves needle sales

A new California law that took effect in January permits the Los Angeles city council this week to unanimously approve an ordinance allowing city pharmacies to sell hypodermic needles without a prescription, the Los Angeles Times reports. The state law is meant to help stop the spread of HIV among injection-drug users. Under the law, a local community can agree whether to participate in the program; with local lawmakers' approval, pharmacies in the community can then choose whether to join the needle-sale effort. Participating pharmacies also will be required to distribute drug-treatment and harm-reduction information to needle buyers, who must be at least 18 years old. So far in Los Angeles, chain pharmacy Walgreens is the largest organization to commit to selling the needles over the counter. The measure now goes to Mayor James Hahn, who is expected to sign it. Los Angeles already spends about $500,000 annually to operate seven needle-exchange programs in the city, but AIDS advocates say the needle-sale measure will help further reduce the sharing of needles and lower the risk of HIV and hepatitis transmissions among injection-drug users.

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