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The Sacrament County, Calif., board of supervisors this week voted 3-2 to reject a measure that would have allowed pharmacies in the county to sell hypodermic needles without a prescription to help reduce needle sharing and cut HIV and hepatitis infection rates among injection-drug users, the Sacramento Bee reports. Health experts, including emergency room doctors and university professors, told the supervisors that over-the-counter needle sales would slash infectious disease rates among drug users and ultimately save the county millions of dollars that will be spent on medical care for users who contract HIV, hepatitis, and other blood-borne diseases. But law enforcement officials opposed the measure, saying it encouraged drug use and could have resulted in more police officers accidentally getting stuck by improperly discarded needles.
A dozen California counties have approved over-the-counter needle sales through a new statewide law that went into effect earlier this year. (Advocate.com)