New law cited in decision to end needle exchange program in Mercer County

West Virginia

ST. JOHNSBURY, VT – FEBRUARY 06: Used syringes are viewed at a needle exchange clinic where users can pick up new syringes and other clean items for those dependent on heroin on February 6, 2014 in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin recently devoted his entire State of the State speech to the scourge of heroin. Heroin and other opiates have begun to devastate many communities in the Northeast and Midwest leading to a surge in fatal overdoses in a number of states. As prescription painkillers, such as the synthetic opiate OxyContin, become increasingly expensive and regulated, more and more Americans are turning to heroin to fight pain or to get high. Heroin, which has experienced a surge in production in places such as Afghanistan and parts of Central America, has a relatively inexpensive street price and provides a more powerful affect on the user. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

PRINCETON, WV (AP) – A southern West Virginia health department has stopped its needle exchange program due to strict requirements under a new state law.

The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports the Mercer County Health Department voted Wednesday to discontinue its program.

Health Department Administrator Roger Topping told board members that the new regulations are so strict that compliance is not possible. He noted almost 50 requirements that had to be approved for a license to offer a harm reduction program that includes a needle exchange.

Health officials had begun a needle exchange in 2019 in order to prevent the spread of diseases like Hepatitis C and HIV.

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