Where Can I Buy Needles and Syringes Over the Counter?

Many stores don’t sell syringes over the counter, most likely because they often come with a high risk of severe health or law consequences. Some state laws require a prescription for syringes. 

In short, you can buy needles and syringes over the counter at these places:

  • Walgreens
  • Walmarts
  • CVS
  • Pharmacies
  • Farms & Barns (for a larger quantity)
  • Amazon & Healthy online stores
  • Medical supply company website

You will find them near the medicine or baby sections. However, the number of syringes you can buy, the legalities, and the experience of needles can vary from store to state.

If you have diabetes with a prescription for insulin, you should have no problem. Syringes are invaluable for people with diabetes who inject insulin. There are many different kinds of needles readily with other functions, but it can be hard to ask the pharmacist the right things.

Where Can I Buy Needles and Syringes Over the Counter

It will be hit-or-miss if you are like me and do not have diabetes but need the needles for something else. Despite some states laws (like California) making it entirely legal for pharmacies to sell syringes to somebody without a prescription, it generally depends on the pharmacist. Not all pharmacies will sell syringes to anyone because of the obvious.



In 2014, Pollini found that most surveyed pharmacists were overtly opposed to selling syringes to people who use drugs. Only 113, or 29 percent, reported they would do the same for “a known or suspected injector of illicit drugs.” Almost half (45%) of pharmacies still required a prescription. 


What is the most common type of syringes?

The most common type of needles for insulin injections are 1cc and 23-30 gauge. You might have to get an entire box instead of packets. 

What should I pick for barrel size?

The barrel size of a syringe affects the amount of insulin it can hold. Choose a barrel size that’s appropriate for your dose as well as your syringe type. For example, smaller barrel sizes such as 3/10-cc work best for those with lower dosages. While larger ones such as ½-CC work best for those with higher dosages.

If you know everything you need, tell the pharmacist, for example, “I’m looking for 100 insulin syringes, 1/2 cc, 28 gauge needle 5/8 inch.” Otherwise, chat to them about your needs.

They may be able to give some direction. There are plenty of articles out there that will discuss these specifications in depth.

What will happen when you buy syringes over the counter?

Pharmacies in some states like Minnesota have a “10-pack” of insulin syringes for sale. Staff may ask if you want a different size – say 0.5 ml or 1 ml – to account for your needs when you’re purchasing. The team may also be wary of illicit use, but only to determine the correct quantity needed.

Depend on the stores, for example, Walgreens has a policy not to question customers, but some pharmacists may. This conversation may occur:

  • “Hi, how can I help you?”
  • “Yes, I need a bag/box of 30 gauge, 8mm, U-100 insulin syringes.”
  • “Sure, I’m just gonna need to see your picture ID” Simple as that.

Although when dispensing medication, it’s up to their discretion. Walgreens generally sells hypodermic needles. You can usually buy a 100-pack for around $14.

U-100 syringe is the standard reference. Then go to the pharmacy counter and ask for them like you have done it before. Pretend that you’re asking for something that isn’t a big deal. Most likely, they will grab them and ring you up.

If you are asking for an IV needle, one way around it is to ask for an IM needle, the smallest gauge possible. An insulin needle is 28-31 gauge, and the IM one is 25 or more prominent. Define the volume of the syringe, needle length, and gauge.

When the transaction is satisfactorily completed, say, as you’re leaving, “Thanks. I will be coming back.”

If they do refuse to sell them to you, that’s their right. Don’t be rude or cause a scene. Most stores don’t even bother asking what you want unless you tell them.

Do I need a prescription to buy syringes?

Syringe usage varies by individual & purpose. For example, if you have diabetes or are administering injection-based medicines, your doctor will prescribe those to you. If your doctor prescribes medication for oral administration in the form of a jejune mixer or in pill form for those who can’t swallow, they will continue to do so.

Only a medical professional will prescribe or approve the dispense of syringes, and that’s typically the only way you can obtain them in any “large” quantity.

In addition, if you want your insurance to pay for them, you will need a prescription. At one time, pharmacies were cautious in selling syringes or needles without an accompanying injectible medication. That has changed as a result of HIV and Hepatitis C viruses.

Is there any law prohibiting the selling of syringes?

If the law doesn’t prohibit sells of syringes, then it’s up to the pharmacy. In Walgreens, you can’t buy a needle without a medication profile showing you need to inject. It varies from state to state. Some states don’t have any ban on it.

Some will only sell if you show your insulin prescription or whatever else that they’re for.

There are 18 states nationwide with state-wide syringe exchange programs. Four other states have limited exchange programs (usually by county). In Delaware and Tennessee, you cannot sell syringes in retail stores without a prescription. In all other states but two, there are no rules explicitly banning it.

If you are seeking needles without a prescription for illegal purposes, be prepared before shopping at Walmart. Figure out what needle & syringe size you are looking for. Try to select something popular with people with diabetes.

Is there any law prohibiting the possession of syringes?

Possessing an unaltered syringe is typically considered a misdemeanor, which may not sound like the worst offense you can commit. For some people, though, even this could be a big deal.

There is no governmental law forbidding the possession of syringes. Roughly 30+ states have DP (drug paraphernalia) laws, which leaves about five states that do not. If you’re prescribed a drug that comes in an injectable form (for example, insulin), it’s not illegal to possess the syringe.

How many packs of syringes can I buy at a time?

Where Can I Buy Needles and Syringes Over the Counter

Buying a larger pack of syringes means you’re always prepared. But you need to consult the law in your state before buy in large quantities. 

Some states require that you have a prescription to buy insulin syringes in any quantity. Other conditions may need a prescription if you are buying more than ten packs of them.

California syringes law, for example, states like this:

  • California law (AB1743) allows licensed pharmacies and physicians throughout the state to sell or provide an unlimited number of syringes without a prescript to consumers over 18.
  • The law stipulates that pharmacists, physicians, and syringe exchange programs are authorized sources of nonprescription syringes for disease prevention objectives.
  • AB1743 removes the prior limit of 30 placed on nonprescription syringe provision by pharmacies and physicians.
  • AB1743 needs the approved NPSS sources to “counsel consumers on safe disposal” of syringes.
  • California Assembly Bill 1743 (Ting, Chapter 331, Statutes of 2014) allows physicians and pharmacists in California to furnish or market syringes without a prescription to adults 18 years of age or older.

Connecticut, Minnesota, Maine, New Jersey, New York, and New Hampshire allow the business of 10 or less. Also, since state laws can change often, it is always best to check with your local pharmacy what may be required.

What are other alternatives?

Amazon has a lot of medical supplies, so if you run into problems with Walmart, Amazon is your best bet. Amazon has all kinds of stuff. Also, if you’re looking for larger syringes for hobby use in smaller quantities, the Farm & Barn tractor supply type stores will have those types for sale over the counter.

You can also look for a needle exchange program in your town.

In conclusion

Pharmacists are the best source of knowledge. Let them guide you through your medication; get your questions answered, and get prescriptions without having to do all the additional research online. If you have a preference for syringes, say so to your pharmacist.

It’s also good to mention how often you think you’ll need a syringe. You can always choose what brands of needles there are and then talk about your preferences before asking for recommendations on which ones best suit your needs. Mentioning drawbacks with past Syringes is essential for making a viable investment in the next set.

Pharmacists are great to consult with, as they often dispense these syringes daily.


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