Disease Prevention Demonstration Project

Contact Information
LAC Department of Public Health
Public Health Policy & Special Projects
Duy Tran, MPH
241 N. Figueroa St. Room 306 C
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Public Health Policy - Over-the-Counter Pharmacy Syringe Sales Program

Nonprescription Syringe Sales through Pharmacies

(Over-the-Counter Pharmacy Syringe Sales Program)


On October 2011, Governor Edmund Brown, signed into law Senate Bill 41 (SB41) as part of a statewide effort to reduce the spread of HIV, hepatitis C, and other bloodborne pathogens. The new law expands legal access to hypodermic and syringes in order to reduce the sharing of contaminated injection equipment. Beginning January 1, 2012, the new law authorizes physicians and pharmacists to provide or sell up to 30 syringes without a prescription. Similarly, SB41 also allows adults over 18 years of age to purchase and possess upto 30 syringes for personal use without prescription provided that they came from an authorized source.  The new law replaces a previous pilot program under Senate Bill 1159 that allowed registered pharmacists to sell up to 10 syringes without a prescription.


  • Allows licensed physicians, pharmacists, and syringe exchange programs in California to furnish or sell  30 or fewer hypodermic needles and syringes to adult 18 years of age or older.
  • Allows persons 18 years old or older to purchase and possess up to 30 hypodermic needles or syringes without a prescription from an authorized source.
  • Authorized sources for needles includes: physicians, pharmacists, and syringe exchange programs.
  • In order to sell up to 30 syringes without a prescription, pharmacists and programs must comply with the following guidelines:
    • Store needles and syringes in a manner that ensures that they are not accessible to unauthorized persons;
    • Provide for the safe disposal of needles and syringes through one or more of the following options:
      • An onsite sharps collection and disposal program;
      • Furnish or make available, mail-back sharps container swith tracking to verify destruction;
      • Furnish or make available, sharps containers
    • Provide customers with written or verbal information on how to:
      • Access drug treatment;
      • Access testing and treatment for HIV and HCV;and
      • Safely dispose of sharps waste.
  • Unless subsequent legislations are enacted, the Nonprescription Syringe Sales program under Senate Bill 41 will expire at the end of 2015.
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