Pernicious Anaemia Society
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Part of the package

It is an unfortunate reality that having a B12 deficiency comes with the added burden of having to educate what feels like everyone about the neurologic symptoms, how the deficiency can manifest without anemia, how inadequate and unreliable the current available tests are, AND, if you live in certain places, what the laws are regarding retail sales of syringes.

Sometimes I wish people just already knew this stuff.

I went into a pharmacy on Saturday to buy a few IM syringes (I'm switching from subQ back to IM). I had brought with me my B12 prescription which proves I would be using the syringes legally, but I was told that they couldn't legally sell me IM syringes without a separate prescription for the syringes themselves; they could only sell me insulin syringes.

I know differently. Here is the actual law in the state of WA ( ):

"On the sale at retail of any hypodermic syringe, hypodermic needle, or any device adapted for the use of drugs by injection, the retailer shall satisfy himself or herself that the device will be used for the legal use intended."

There is no prescription required and nothing in the law that limits the type of syringe. So I asked the pharmacist to please provide me a copy of whatever regulation she has that limits the type of syringe to be sold. She said she couldn't do it right then, but she'd look it up, print it out, and call me to come get the print out. So far I haven't heard from her.

Even if she never gets back to me, I do sincerely hope that she looks up the info, finds out that she's been misquoting the law, and changes her behavior. I realize that, sometimes, I'm not just educating others for my own benefit, but also for the benefit of anyone that pharmacist encounters after me.

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My (previous) UK GP can prescribe me B12 ampoules and a sharps box, but not needles and syringes for IM, his NHS computer will not let him, there is no option he said. The UK Chemist can sell me sharps box but also not able to sell me syringes, did guide me to the the UK pharmacist (and nurses at surgery) actually encouraged me to go and buy them online. I can buy them at any pharmacy in Spain though. Apparently one will get them free at a drugs centre. To get my sharps bin collected I need a written form faxed by GP to the council and that is every time I need a sharps box collecting. All not very user friendly considering I am saving the NHS money, real money as this is for life. You would have thought they would help save money, and surgery/ GP/ nurses time, but no.

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I live in Oregon. Was asked to show a pharmacist my arms to prove that I wasn't a "junkie" when I was purchasing syringes! I'm 60 years old and quite obviously a grandmother. I was just grateful none of my grandchildren were with me at the time.


Ooh, Flygranny, I have to say I admire your stoic response to that outrageous humiliation. I would have shamed myself by punching their lights out. Damn cheek.


That's awful! And it isn't even a valid form of proof! (Junkies have been known to inject in other places to avoid needle marks.) I hope that pharmacist never asks you to do that again, otherwise I'd be tempted to do as Chancery suggests and pop him the jaw.


I just laughed and sighed


I had to build a relationship with two pharmacists here in the USA. The first time I ordered a box of 100 25mm needles on 1 ml syringes, there was a lot of scrutiny. That pharmacy then ran out of B12 so I had to go to another pharmacy for the B12 prescription.

A few weeks ago I went back to the first pharmacy with the label from the box and they only needed to look up the previous order and no questions were asked, even though I'm not getting the actual B12 prescription filled there.

Post code lottery?


It definitely varies widely from place to place. In my case, I went to a different pharmacy that same Saturday which was only a few blocks away. Not only did they sell me the syringes I needed, they didn't even require me to prove I planned to use them legally. Of course WA state's law does give a lot of discretion to the retailers. There is a provision to the law that states that retailers are not obligated to sell them. (Meaning they can turn you down if they feel like it.)

My issue with that first pharmacy was not as much about them not selling me the syringes as it was about them misquoting the law. I find it troubling if they are hiding a reluctance to sell syringes behind a law that doesn't exist because not every patient would think to question that. If they don't want to sell them, they need to be clear that it's just their personal policy or their pharmacy's policy. That way the patient knows they can simply take their business somewhere else.

Btw, I still haven't gotten any call to come pick up my photocopy of the regulation that limits which kind of syringes can be sold. I'm thinking of maybe going back in and asking about that (and giving them a copy of the actual law while I'm there).


Just an update; I hadn't heard back from the pharmacy by Thursday so I went back over yesterday and gave them a print out of the law and a print out of this letter:

The letter explains the reason the law exists. (The WA state law has been on the books since the early 1980's.)

The pharmacist was surprisingly receptive to getting the info. She said she hadn't had time to go looking for anything herself because she's been overwhelmed with all of the end of year health insurance changes. She even thanked me for following up on it. :)


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