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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: January 13, 2017 04:23 PM
From: Representative Angel Cruz
To: All House members
Subject: Syringe-Exchange Program Safety Act (Former HB 2199)
In the near future, I plan to reintroduce HB 2199 from the 2015-2016 legislative session. This legislation provides for the safe disposal of hypodermic needles and syringes, requiring education materials, limiting the operation of syringe-exchange programs within a city of the first class and providing penalties.

Pennsylvania is currently in the midst of its worst drug and public health crisis due to prescription opioid and heroin abuse. Once individuals become immune to or can no longer afford or obtain prescription opioids, they often turn to heroin, the most commonly injected drug, because it is more affordable and accessible. Intravenous drug use is the number one cause for the spread of blood borne communicable diseases, including HIV and Hepatitis C, because those addicted to drugs such as heroin use about 1,000 needles per year, often discarding used needles on the streets and in our communities.

The intent of my legislation is to ensure that used needles are properly and safely disposed of by (1) requiring any provider that operates a syringe-exchange program or a pharmacist that sells nonprescription needles and syringes make available a disposal option that adheres to a strict one-for-one needle or syringe exchange distribution policy and (2) making it unlawful for an individual to dispose of a needle or a syringe on the grounds of any public or private place. Also, because the safety of our children is of the utmost importance, my legislation will limit a syringe-exchange program from operating in a city of the first class within 500 feet of a residential housing development or 1,000 feet of the property line of any public, private or parochial school.

Since it is not enough to just get used needles off the streets and out of our communities, my legislation will also require syringe-exchange programs and pharmacists to provide written information or verbal counseling to individuals on how to: (1) access drug addiction and treatment information and referrals to drug treatment programs; (2) access testing and treatment for and prevent transmission of HIV, Hepatitis B and C and other blood borne communicable disease; (3) utilize safe disposal methods for needles and syringes; (4) access drug overdose response and treatment; (5) access information and referrals to medical, mental health and other support services; and (6) access information and referrals to locations and programs which offer clothing, food and shelter. To meet this requirement, the syringe-exchange programs and pharmacists can use their own materials, or disseminate the educational materials required to be developed by the Department of Health in consultation with the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs.

Please join me in addressing the safety of our communities, helping individuals and working to combat the worst drug and public health crisis this Commonwealth has ever faced. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact my Harrisburg office at 717-705-1925.

Previous co-sponsors:

Introduced as HB617