Pharmacy Participation in Non-Prescription Syringe Sales in Los Angeles and San Francisco Counties, 2007

Published in: Journal of Urban Health, v. 87, no. 4, July 2010, p. 543-552

by Erin N. Cooper, Chaka Dodson, Thomas J. Stopka, Elise D. Riley, Richard S. Garfein, Ricky N. Bluthenthal

Read More

Access further information on this document at

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

Increasing sterile syringe access for injection drug users (IDUs) is one way to prevent HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) transmission in this population. In 2005, California Senate Bill 1159 allowed counties to adopt the Disease Prevention Demonstration Project (DPDP). Where enacted, the DPDP allows pharmacies that register with the county to sell up to ten syringes to adults without a prescription. In the current study, we describe pharmacy participation in nonprescription syringe sales (NPSS) in two counties in California and examine factors associated with NPSS. Telephone and in-person interviews were conducted in Los Angeles (LA) and San Francisco (SF) with 238 pharmacies in 2007 (n = 67 in SF; n = 171 in LA). Quantitative survey items captured pharmacy registration with the county, pharmacy policies/practices, episodes and conditions of NPSS and refusals to sell, potential negative consequences of NPSS, and staff attitudes regarding HIV and HCV prevention for IDUs. Overall, 42% of pharmacies reported NPSS (28% in LA and 81% in SF), although only 34% had registered with the county (17% in LA and 76% in SF). Many pharmacies required proof of a medical condition (80% in LA and 30% in SF) and refused NPSS if the customer was a suspected IDU (74% in LA, 33% in SF). Few negative consequences of NPSS were reported. In multivariate logistic regression analysis, we found that the odds of NPSS were significantly higher among pharmacists who thought syringe access was important for preventing HIV among IDUs [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 2.95; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.10?7.92], were chain pharmacies (AOR = 12.5; 95% CI = 4.55?33.33), and were located in SF (AOR = 4.88; 95% CI = 1.94?12.28). These results suggest that NPSS were influenced by pharmacists' perception. NPSS might be increased through greater educational efforts directed at pharmacists, particularly those in non-chain pharmacies.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.