RELEASE: Senate Passes Bipartisan Bill to Create Syringe Collection Program in New Hampshire

CONCORD – Senator Watters (D-Dover) released the following comments after passage of a bipartisan bill to create a syringe collection and dispensation program in New Hampshire to combat the spread of communicable diseases associated with heroin misuse:

“This legislation is the latest in a series of bipartisan efforts to combat the myriad health crises surrounding the substance misuse epidemic in our state. Many states have established programs for safe, regulated needle and syringe exchanges and have adjusted laws to protect those suffering from addiction from coming forward to obtain clean syringes,” said Senator Watters, a cosponsor of the bill. “Not only is there research that shows that needle exchange programs increase the likelihood of people going to treatment, they also go a long way toward limiting dangerous outbreaks of HIV and Hepatitis C.”

Senate Bill 234 authorizes non-profits and other controlled entities to dispense hypodermic syringes and needles and allows them to be sold in retail establishments other than pharmacies. The legislation also exempts residual amounts of controlled substances in hypodermic syringes and needles from the provision of the controlled drug act to encourage users to come forward to safely dispense of used syringes without fear of prosecution. Doctors and advocates have long testified that individuals struggling with addiction are prone to sharing needles, fashioning homemade needles and disposing used syringes in public places for fear of being prosecuted for attempting to procure hygienic needles or dispose of used memorabilia properly.=

“Until now, New Hampshire was the only New England state without a needle exchange program of some kind, and the results were disastrous: 70% of users treated at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester test positive for Hepatitis C. It’s our hope that this legislation can begin to remove some of the stigma that leads to the dangerous misuse of IVs and syringes and help get more people into treatment and prevent a public health risk.”