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Report: Half Of Indiana Pharmacists Support Selling Syringes To Likely Drug Users

About 50 percent of pharmacists reported they had sold syringes without a prescription to people they determined to be likely injection drug users. Photo credit: Steve Burns (WFIU/WTIU).

new study reveals that about half of Indiana’s pharmacies would be willing to sell syringes without a prescription to likely injection drug users.

Researchers from Indiana University, Butler University and more surveyed responses from about 300 managing pharmacists from across Indiana in 2016.

Half of the pharmacists agreed that dispensing syringes to people who inject drugs would reduce harm to people with addiction in the community.

However, pharmacies located in communities with high rates of opioid overdose deaths were 56 percent less likely to sell syringes without a prescription. That’s compared to communities with fewer overdose deaths.

And 50 percent of pharmacists surveyed say they have sold syringes without a prescription to people they determined to be a likely injection drug user.

Carrie Lawrence is from the Indiana University School of Public Health and contributed to the study. She says while some counties have syringe exchange programs, pharmacies can be another place for harm reduction.

“The pharmacies being kind of a player in overall public health and really specifically as a mediator of harms related to injection drug use,” she says.

The study finds that pharmacists working in a pharmacy that stocks the opioid overdose antidote naloxone are more likely to be comfortable selling syringes to people who inject drugs.

Lawrence says they now plan to conduct research on Hoosier’s access to naloxone.

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