Some medications require syringes. And if you don’t want to make a trip to your doctor, it’s much more convenient to pop into a local CVS and pick one up.
But does CVS sell syringes? Are they legal to purchase without a prescription?
Does CVS Sell Syringes?
You can purchase syringes at CVS pharmacies. However, CVS pharmacies are guided by the laws of the state in which they are situated. Therefore, it is important to investigate the legal information associated with whatever state you reside in (or intend to make the purchase in) before attempting to buy syringes.
This article takes a look at the purchase of syringes in The United States: why the purchase can be complex, what you need to do before you purchase, and where you can purchase syringes in The United States.
Can You Buy Syringes Over The Counter In Every State Of The United States?
Syringe Distribution Laws in the United States are not the same from state to state, and they continue to change as national approaches to health and safety broaden and develop.
Therefore, whenever you need to purchase syringes, check your state information first. The best way to do this is find formal published government information and follow these guidelines.
For example, if you want to seeking information in California, the California Department of Public Health currently holds the most up to date and accurate information. The information is also clear, comprehensive, and leads to further resources and services.
On this page, you’ll see that the Key Provisions of California Law provide information on non-prescription sale of syringes in pharmacies within California.
Other sources of reliable and current information include your actual pharmacist. A phone call will confirm everything you need to know, including the forms of ID you may need (if any). A third source of accurate information will always be your local doctor and/or medical clinic.
The information from the following sources may not be so useful. This is because it may be based on what people:
- Think is true (but actually isn’t)
- Believe should be true (even though it isn’t)
- Knew used to be true once (but isn’t anymore)
- Experienced in a certain place (or state) but which is not correct in any other state
When seeking health information, always use the most formal and official accepted professional advice.
Where Can I Buy Needles and Syringes Over The Counter?
The sale of needles and syringes “over the counter” in The United States is subject to individual state laws, all of which state mandatory prescription, medication, age, and identification restrictions.
The most relevant laws to this issue are the Drug Paraphernalia (DP) laws (nearly all states have these) and specifically, whether or not syringes or needles for injecting controlled substances are included on the list of prohibited paraphernalia.
You can determine each states DP Laws by looking them up online. Remember that these laws are different for each state.
There are two states in America that have always prohibited the retail sale of syringes without a prescription. These are Delaware and Tennessee, although Tennessee does now have a needle exchange program in three cities.
A needle exchange programme, or a Syringe Services Program is a type of “harm reduction programme” which operates legally within the defined laws.
Many individual pharmacies sell syringes, but the larger chain store pharmacies which sell syringes over the counter include:
- Rite Aid
Always remember to check the legalities of your purchase first, and remember that, depending on what state you’re in, you may be asked for any of the following before you can make a purchase:
- Identification/proof of age
- Prescription from a licenced doctor
- Type of syringes requested
- Number of syringes (the number permitted is different from state to state)
- Personal medical information and history
Is It Legal To Purchase Syringes Online?
It is both legal and possible to purchase syringes online, and many people do. Health advice is both insistent and clear: always purchase syringes online from a trusted, accredited, and certified healthcare retailer.
It’s important to also remember (depending on where you are) that those same Drug Paraphernalia Laws state that “to mail drug paraphernalia or transport it through interstate commerce” is not permitted. The legality of your purchase will depend on whether or not the state you’re in (or buying from) classifies syringes as “drug paraphernalia”.
Trusted online retailers of syringes include:
- CVS Pharmacies online
- Online accredited health warehouses
- Walgreens online retail
- Online medical supply agencies/stores
However, if you’re not sure on what you need, always ask for advice from your doctor or medical clinic before making any purchase.
Can You Buy Syringes Over The Counter In Texas?
Historically, Texan Drug Paraphernalia Laws have deemed it illegal to purchase syringes without a prescription. In other words, syringes are included in the state’s drug paraphernalia laws and with no exemption for SSP participants.
There has been strong interest in changing many aspects of the DP laws, including the ability to purchase syringes over the counter. However, no legal changes have yet been made.
Often news of “developments in DP issues” is published, but there have been no actual legal changes, which can cause public confusion.
The term “drug paraphernalia” retains its specific legal definition in Texas, and Section 481.001 of the Texas Health and Safety Code outlines the meaning of the term drug paraphernalia. That definition includes the following as drug paraphernalia:
(K) a hypodermic syringe, needle, or other object used or intended for use in parenterally injecting a controlled substance into the human body.
This means that it is not (yet) legal to purchase a syringe without a prescription in Texas. Your local pharmacist (or doctor) should be familiar with the most current information for the location you’re in.
The purchasing of syringes has long been a complicated issue because of the associated health and community risks. Pharmacy laws are not consistent from state to state and have changed over time.
This means that there is no one answer (or solution) to cover every situation or question. The best approach is to consult your personal medical workers or support staff.
Alternatively, you can follow the guidance of the pharmacist serving you. Pharmacists are bound by the Pharmacy Laws (which often change) of the State in which they work, so it is their expertise we must rely on.