Injection Drug Users Report Good Access to Pharmacy Sale of Syringes

Department of Psychiatry, Washington University, School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.
Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association (Impact Factor: 1.24). 11/2002; 42(6 Suppl 2):S68-72. DOI: 10.1331/1086-5802.42.0.S68.Reich
Source: PubMed


To examine injection drug users (IDUs) opinions and behavior regarding purchase of sterile syringes from pharmacies.
Focus groups.
Urban and rural sites in Colorado, Connecticut, Kentucky, and Missouri.
Eight focus groups, with 4 to 15 IDU participants per group.
Transcripts of focus group discussions were evaluated for common themes by the authors and through the use of the software program NUD*IST.
Knowledge of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), pharmacy use, barriers to access from pharmacies, high-risk and risk-reducing behavior, and rural/urban difference.
Almost all participants knew the importance of using sterile syringes for disease prevention and reported buying syringes from pharmacies more than from any other source. Two IDUs believed pharmacists knew the syringes were being used for injecting drugs and perceived pharmacists' sales of syringes to be an attempt to contribute to HIV prevention. Most IDUs reported that sterile syringes were relativity easy to buy from pharmacies, but most also reported barriers to access, such as having to buy in packs of 50 or 100, being made to sign a book, having to make up a story about being diabetic, or having the feeling that the pharmacists were demeaning them. While the majority of IDUs reported properly cleaning or not sharing syringes and safely disposing of them, others reported inadequate cleaning of syringes and instances of sharing syringes or of improper disposal. There were few differences in IDUs' reported ability to buy syringes among states or between urban and rural sites, although the data suggest that IDUs could buy syringes more easily in the urban settings.
For the most part, participants understood the need for sterile syringes in order to protect themselves from HIV, hepatitis B virus, and hepatitis C virus and saw pharmacies as the best source of sterile syringes. Although these data are not generalizable, they suggest that pharmacists can and do serve as HIV-prevention service providers in their communities.

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Available from: Joseph L. Fink III, Jan 05, 2015
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    • "The most comfortable place for obtaining sterile injecting equipment for IDUs is a SEP[12], because the service is friendly/non-discriminating and free of charge. However, the bigger accessibility to the pharmacies (close to home, on the way), more comfortable working hours and working days, encouraged IDUs to use pharmacies to purchase the main item – a sterile syringe[13,14]. Pharmacies are used by men and women. Younger IDUs and with a lower injecting frequency per day visited pharmacies more often than older or with higher injecting frequency per day[24]. "

    Full-text · Article · Jan 2013
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    • "Studies regarding the impact of syringe acquisition through pharmacy sales are few. Those conducted suggest the value of pharmacies in HIV prevention, as evidenced by lower rates of HIV risk behaviors among IDUs who successfully use pharmacies to purchase syringes,10–12 the significant contributions of pharmacists as HIV prevention service providers,13 and the importance of community-level education regarding pharmacies as syringe resources.14 Many state and local municipalities throughout the USA have therefore amended laws by permitting the sale of non-prescription syringes. "
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    ABSTRACT: Increased options for syringe acquisition and disposal have been associated with reductions in high-risk behaviors. This study determined the extent of pharmacy uptake in accessing syringes among injection drug users (IDUs) and estimated associations between pharmacy uptake and safer injection/disposal practices. Two years after the implementation of California's Disease Prevention Demonstration Project, which removed restrictions to non-prescription syringe sales through pharmacies with local authorization, IDUs were recruited through street outreach in San Francisco and interviewed regarding recent syringe acquisition, use, and disposal. The sample of 105 persons included a high proportion of men (67%), people of color (49%), and homeless persons (71%). The most common syringe source was a syringe exchange program (SEP) (80%), with pharmacies being accessed by 39% of respondents. The most commonly cited source of disposal was a SEP (65%), with very few reports of pharmacy disposal (2%). Adjusted analysis showed that unsuccessful attempts to purchase syringes at a pharmacy increased the odds of both injecting with a used syringe and giving away a used syringe. Using a SEP decreased the odds of unsafe injection and disposal practices. Thus, 2 years after the initiation of the California Disease Prevention Demonstration Project, results from this small study suggest that SEPs still provide the majority of syringe distribution and disposal services to San Francisco IDUs; however, pharmacies now augment syringe access. In addition, unsafe injection behavior is reported more often among those who do not use these syringe sources. These results are consistent with prior studies in suggesting that increasing the availability of syringes through SEPs and pharmacies, and developing bridges between them, may further reduce syringe-related risk.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2010 · Journal of Urban Health
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