Hypodermic Syringes & Needles Act

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Hypodermic Syringes & Needles Act
The Hypodermic Syringes and Needles Act sets medical needle standards in Illinois. (needle image by Marek Kosmal from Fotolia.com)

The Hypodermic Syringes and Needles Act established rules for the possession and purchase of hypodermic syringes and needles in Illinois. This legislation sets limits on how many needles an individual is allowed to purchase at a pharmacy, mandates penalties for violations and requires that disposal guidelines and educational materials be drafted and made available.

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General Rules and Penalties

Under the Hypodermic Syringes and Needles Act, only certain individuals can possess a hypodermic needle and syringe that contains a controlled substance. An individual who is at least 18 years of age can have up to 20 syringes and needles in his or her possession at any given time, so long as the items do not contain a substance that is controlled under Illinois law. A person found in violation of this provision can be charged with a Class A misdemeanour for the first offence, which carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a £1,625 fine. Subsequent offences are a Class 4 felony. This type of felony carries a jail sentence of one to three years and a fine of up to £16,250.

Exempted Persons

Per section 1(a) of this act, only certain individuals can possess a hypodermic needle or syringe filled with, or for use with, a controlled substance. Individuals so exempted include a licensed health provider, veterinarian, embalmer, pharmacist and a medical laboratory technician working under the supervision of a registered health professional. A government officer handling these items in the course of legal duties is also cited within this section. Additionally, a farmer who uses a hypodermic needle or syringe containing a controlled substance in caring for livestock may be exempted. A person with a valid medical prescription is allowed to possess a hypodermic needle or syringe containing the controlled substance that was prescribed.

Sales

A person over 18 can buy sterile hypodermic syringes and needles from a pharmacist. These items must be stored at the pharmacy in a manner that limits immediate access to the pharmacists and other designated employees or persons. The needles and syringes can be sold only in the pharmacy area of a store--they cannot be placed on shelves throughout the store. An individual who is not considered an exempted person cannot buy more needles or syringes than allowed by law at any given time.

Educational Uses

Under section 2.5(a) of the act, the Illinois Department of Public Health is charged with drafting educational brochures and other materials containing public health and safety information about the use of medical needles and syringes. This educational material has to include information on safe injection methods, prevention of HIV transmission through the use of needles, proper disposal techniques and drug dependency treatments. Pharmacists have to give a copy of the educational material to anyone buying hypodermic needles and syringes who does not fall under section 1(a) of the law.

Disposal

The Hypodermic Syringes and Needles Act mandated the creation of guidelines by the Illinois Department of Public Health for disposing of hypodermic syringes and needles. Guidelines must follow methods of disposal used by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

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