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November 30, 2020

Pharmacy Access to Sterile Injection Supplies for People Who Inject Drugs

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Center for Behavioral Health, Neurological Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio
  • 2Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of California, San Francisco
JAMA Intern Med. 2021;181(2):153-154. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.6840

Drug-related overdoses continue to garner much needed attention in the US. Overdoses are, however, just 1 of many public health issues stemming from substance use. Often less visible, although no less concerning, is the role that injection drugs play in spreading infectious diseases. Millions of people in the US have injected drugs during their lifetime,1 and for people who inject drugs, sterile syringes and needles are often unavailable. By expanding over-the-counter access to sterile injection supplies, pharmacies can help reduce hardship and prevent infections and death. Sterile supplies are especially important now that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is likely exacerbating complications from substance use disorders and limiting the availability of care.

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1 Comment for this article
Common sense
Cary Hardison, M. D., FACEP |
There has never been any evidence that "needle exchanges" recruit individuals to become "drug users". As the article points out, there is the potential for enormous savings by practicing good preventive medicine -- i.e. providing needles and syringes to established drug users.

Emotion always overwhelms logic, this is the classical example: logic says provide needles and syringes, emotion screams that this would provoke more "drug use".

Well done, Drs. Barnett and Morris. If only those who have the authority to change the current paradigm would read your article.