Needles Solution Team Survey
All 18 Pharmacies in Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, and Felton were interviewed by the Needles Solution Team. Watsonville area has not been included in the review.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SURVEY:
- The pharmacies that sell syringes are selling within the legal guidelines (maximum 30)
- Pharmacy sales are only 16% of syringes made available in Santa Cruz.
- 3 pharmacies constitute 69% of the pharmacy sales of non-prescription syringes.
- Only 1 of the 3 is on the SC County free sharps container program. It would be valuable to have the remaining 2 become part of the program immediately.
- The county sharps program literature and the SOS literature is generally out of date.
- Though a customer can buy up to 30 syringes, the customer almost always by the minimum (10). This limited purchase may be to hold them over until they get syringes from Santa Cruz Syringe Access.
DETAILS OF SURVEY - PHARMACIES THAT SELL SYRINGES WITHOUT A PRESCRIPTION:
- 10 pharmacies of the 18 pharmacies sell syringes without a prescription.
- The total annual count of pharmacy non-prescription syringes sold is 42,462.
- Of the 18 pharmacies, CVS on Mission (14,880 syringes), Walgreens on Soquel (9300 syringes) and Rite Aid on Soquel (5,282) account for 69% of all pharmacy non-prescription sales.
- Non-prescription syringes are sold in sealed packages of 10.
- The maximum that any of the pharmacies will sell is 30 syringes per sale.
- Of the pharmacies that said they can sell 30 syringes, the customer almost always asks for 10 only (one package)
- Costco and Dominican pharmacies require the customer to fill in either a questionnaire or a log asking why the customer needs the syringes.
- The questionnaire or log is reviewed by the pharmacist and the sale is either approved or denied.
- All pharmacies sell Sharps containers.
- Rite Aid pharmacies in Felton and Santa Cruz do not take back used syringes as they do not have the facilities.
- All other non-prescription pharmacies will take back syringes if they are in a Sharps container.
DETAILS OF SURVEY - PHARMACIES THAT DO NOT SELL SYRINGES WITHOUT A PRESCRIPTION:
- 7 pharmacies require a prescription to purchase syringes.
- Palo Alto Foundation Medical Clinic pharmacy does not take back syringes.
- Individually wrapped syringes are only sold if it is a prescription sale.
DETAILS OF SURVEY - PHARMACIES THAT DO NOT SELL SYRINGES AT ALL:
- The Felton Pharmacy does not sell any syringes or Sharps containers. It has been converted to a health/herbal pharmacy inside New Leaf.
The TBSC Needle Solutions Team walked into eight pharmacies with the intent of buying as many needles as possible without a prescription. All of the pharmacies are located in the City of Santa Cruz.
HIGHLIGHTS OF ON-SITE SURVEY:
- 3 pharmacies of the 8 pharmacies would NOT sell us syringes without a prescription.
- We bought a total of 70 syringes for $21.77 during our survey.
- Of the three biggest needle distributers: CVS on Mission (14,880 syringes), Walgreens on Soquel (9300 syringes) and Rite Aid on Soquel (5,282). CVS and Rite Aid gave us free sharps containers.
- Walgreens on Soquel claimed they are no longer participating in the program but they used to be.
- 3 pharmacies gave us free sharps containers. CVS on Mission, Westside Pharmacy and Rite-Aid on Soquel. All three were the black small sharps containers. All had a white sticker reading “SOS/Needle Exchange:239-0657” and “Free anonymous HIV testing: 454-2437”
- 5 of the 8 pharmacies were willing to take our sharps container for disposal.
- All of the syringes were sold to use in sealed packages of 10.
- Of the pharmacies that sold us syringes, only one pharmacy was willing to sell more than 10. Walgreens on Soquel sold us 30.
- Safeway on Mission Street had a log to fill out. Our ID was not checked to make sure the log was accurate. Our purchaser lied on the log.
- All pharmacies sell Sharps containers.
- We found that not all non-prescription pharmacies will take back syringes as our off site survey suggests. We knew the Rite-Aid on Soquel was a non-prescription syringe distributor without collection. The CVS on Mission Street told us to call the number on the black sharps box. Rite-Aid told us the same thing but we knew they didn’t take back sharps.
- All sharps were offered to pharmacies in the black sealed sharps container supplied by SOS/NE
Related Worksheets (PDF Format)