Hypodermic Needles: No Prescription Required

July 24, 2015


by Doug Robinson

Under New Hampshire law, RSA 318:52-C, “a person who is over 18 years of age may legally purchase a hypodermic syringe or needle at a pharmacy without a prescription from a physician.”

Until this past week, all pharmacies in the Town of Hudson have required those who wished to purchase hypodermic needles, accompany that request with the appropriate doctor’s prescription.

The law further states that, at their (pharmacy) discretion, pharmacies may dispense up to ten hypodermic needles as an “over the counter” purchase not requiring a doctor’s prescription.

Beginning this week, Rite Aid Pharmacy has elected to dispense hypodermic needles to any person, over 18, who wishes to purchase needles; no questions asked.  Competing pharmacies, CVS and Walgreens continue not to sell hypodermic needles without a prescription.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, October 2003, released the report, “The Public Health Impact of Needle Exchange Programs in the United States and Abroad.”  The report recommended, “As a measure to combat the spread of AIDS amongst intravenous drug users and their families, that states like New Hampshire, who required a prescription to possess hypodermic needles, should repeal those laws.”

The report also stated that “hypodermic syringes, needles or any instrument adapted for the administration of drugs by injection shall continue to be sold only in registered pharmacies.”

Pharmacies are required, when dispensing hypodermic needles, to follow specific standards and guidelines:

1) Pharmacists shall provide to each purchaser at the time of purchase information regarding the safe disposal of hypodermic syringes or needles, including local disposal locations or a telephone number to call for such information, if appropriate.

2) Pharmacists shall also provide purchasers with information on drug addiction treatment, including a local telephone number to get assistance, if appropriate.

Hypodermic syringes or needles shall not be sold without a prescription unless the following conditions are met:

1) The sale of needles shall include rigid puncture-resistant containers such as “sharps traps” in sufficient quantity to safely dispose of the needles sold.

2) A purchaser shall not be sold more than 10 syringes or needles at any single purchase.

The Hudson~Litchfield News contacted the Rite Aid corporate office but only got to voice mail.