After the approval of Marion County’s syringe exchange program this week, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill had a warning for other counties considering the programs.
"Be cautious about entering these programs without an understanding there are risks associated with this process," says Hill.
Hill points to Wayne County as an example. A county prosecutor there says the area’s program has been connected to at least one overdose.
Wayne County has had a syringe exchange program since 2015 to address high rates of Hepatitis C and HIV related to drug use. Wayne County Health Department executive director Eric Coulter says the program is working.
"We’re going to do this based on the collaboration with the state and from an epidemiology stand point, we think it’s a positive," says Coulter.
The county recently renewed its program. Wayne County Health Center Supervisor Kim Flanigan says the program has been a success.
"The clients that are coming in, we are having them be successful in having them go onto rehab," says Flanigan, "One of our other successes is we’re exchanging one needle for one."
Legislation passed in 2017 made it legal for any county to establish a syringe exchange. But Hill says the programs needs more restrictions.
"I think someone needs to address or define, when is a high incidence of disease?" says Hill, "When does it hit that level?"
Eight Indiana counties have needle exchange programs.