Deuell Files Needle Exchange Bill
Doctor / Senator Says Program Will Save Lives and Money
AUSTIN -- State Senator Bob Deuell (R-Greenville) today filed Senate Bill 308, relating to disease control programs aimed at reducing the risk of communicable diseases. A key component of the bill would allow local health authorities to set up programs that permit anonymous exchange of used hypodermic needles.
Deuell, a practicing family physician, stated the program will save lives, save money and could actually help get drug abusers into rehabilitation and treatment. Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio), a certified pharmacist, has signed on as a joint author.
"I have seen extensive research that show programs like this reduce the spread of hepatitis and HIV, and do not encourage or increase the use of illegal drugs," Deuell said. "On the fiscal side, the cost of treating a single HIV case run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars making this program cost-effective as well."
Deuell also said this initiative may have the added incentive of getting drug users into treatment.
"The local health authorities who administer these programs may also provide drug counseling and treatment," Deuell said. "This might be the only time we can get to these people and give them the opportunity to rehabilitate themselves. One study showed more than 1,000 drug users found their way into treatment through a needle exchange program."
"As a physician and a member of the Senate Finance Committee, I am confident these programs make sense from a medical and a fiscal standpoint," Deuell said. "I firmly believe this represents good, conservative public policy."