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Needle Exchange Legislation Moves Forward

Fraser Cobbe

Orange County Medical Society

Seminole County Medical Society

Additional communities in Florida may be able to pursue development of a needle exchange program if the Infectious Disease Elimination Act (IDEA) continues to move forward in Tallahassee. Both House Bill 579 and Senate Bill 800 advanced this week clearing a key committee in each Chamber. The Legislation would expand the successful IDEA pilot program that has been in operation in Miami-Dade County

The pilot program has illustrated significant impact in Miami. According to the Florida Senate Bill Analysis, "program officials indicate that in the first year, the Miami NSEP has reached more than 500 injection drug users, collected more than 85,000 used needles and reversed at least 235 overdoses. A total of 232 participants have tested HCV positive."

During testimony this week, Dr. Hansel Tookes from the Miami program testified that 350 used doses of Narcan have been returned to the program. This potentially represents 350 lives that have been saved.

The proposed legislation continues the prohibition of public funds being used to operate these exchange programs. Similar to the program in Miami, if the pilot expands to additional communities, all operating expenses will be covered through private donations.

Our organizations are supportive of this legislation as Miami has proven that our citizens will benefit greatly from having access to a similar program which places patient safety and clinical interventions at the forefront of addressing the needs of this at-risk patient population.

We would like to thank two members of the Orange County Legislative Delegation, Representative Amy Mercado and Representative Rene Plasencia, for co-sponsoring the legislation.



 
 
 
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