National Council on Disability Applauds Latest Industry Action on Accessible Prescription Drug Labels

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Published: February 26, 2016

Washington, DC – The National Council on Disability (NCD), an independent federal agency that advises the President, Congress and other federal agencies on disability policy, applauds the latest increase in the availability of talking prescription devices for customers with visual impairments at Rite-Aid pharmacies nationwide.

The Structured Negotiation between Rite Aid, the American Council of the Blind, the California Council of the Blind, and several blind Rite Aid customers was announced February 18. Rite-Aid will provide its new accessible labels to customers who are blind or are visually impaired at any of nearly 4,600 pharmacies nationwide at no additional cost.

“Persons with visual impairments who cannot read print prescription drug container labels all too often report inadvertently taking the wrong medication, the wrong amount, at the wrong time, with the wrong instructions, endangering the health and safety of themselves or family members,” said NCD Chair Clyde Terry. “NCD salutes increased accessibility to prescription drugs and looks forward to the day when similar devices become the standard at all pharmacies in accordance with existing federal civil rights laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

A company news release reported: “It’s important that all of our customers, including those who are blind or visually impaired, are able to access and understand information on their prescriptions,” said Jocelyn Konrad, Rite Aid executive vice president of pharmacy. “By offering these devices, we’re helping customers who have difficulty or who are unable to read a standard prescription label understand and safely take their medications as prescribed by their physician.”

Background on Accessible Prescription Drug Labels:

In July 2012, President Obama signed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Safety and Innovation Act (S.3187) into law requiring the United States Access Board to convene a working group of consumer and industry stakeholders to compile best practices for making information on prescription drug container labels accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired or who are elderly. The 18-member working group included representatives of national organizations representing individuals and seniors who are blind or have low vision and pharmaceutical companies and industry groups. The working group compiled best practices for pharmacies to use, including specific directions for different formats or options, and then submitted them to the Access Board. The National Council on Disability has been conducting a public awareness around the findings of the report.

To read the Access Board Working Group’s report, “Best Practices for Making Prescription Drug Container Label Information Accessible to Persons Who are Blind or Visually-Impaired or Who are Elderly,” go to: http://www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/health-care/about-prescription-drug-container-labels/working-group-recommendations.

About the National Council on Disability (NCD): First established as an advisory Council within the Department of Education in 1978, NCD became an independent federal agency in 1984. In 1986, NCD recommended enactment of an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and drafted the first version of the bill which was introduced in the House and Senate in 1988. Since enactment of the ADA in 1990, NCD has continued to play a leading role in crafting disability policy, and advising the President, Congress and other federal agencies on disability policies, programs, and practices.