Safe Medication Management: Ensuring Effective Communication and Accessibility for Individuals with Disabilities


If a person with a visual or print impairment struggles to read a prescription label, it’s time for the pharmacy to take action. Accessible prescription labels have been available since 2003 and are options that any pharmacy can implement. Formats include large print labels, Braille labels, and talking labels and prescription readers. Controlled Substance Safety Labels (CSSLs) are the latest addition to the options that keep patients safe. The National Council on Disability features a guide to help pharmacists with providing labeling accommodations: Best Practices for Prescription Drug Labeling 

A person has a right to reasonable accommodation to equal access, including the critical information on a prescription label. Not being able to read a prescription label can lead to medication errors, a trip to the ER, or worse. Anyone denied access to information can file a complaint with Health and Human Services or their state’s board of pharmacy and cite the protection laws discussed below.

The FDA’s Safety Innovation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) require pharmacies to provide means of effective communications to people with disabilities. ACA’s Section 1557 is the specific civil rights provision which prohibits discrimination on the ground of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in certain health programs and activities.

The Section 1557 final rule applies to any health program or activity if any part of which receives funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), such as hospitals, doctors or pharmacies who receive Medicaid or Medicare payments, and any health program that HHS itself administers.

Consumers who have requested accommodation by a pharmacy that receives funding from Medicaid, Medicare or the Department of Health and Human Services and have been denied can file a complaint with HHS.gov. In turn, HHS will give guidance to the pharmacy on their rights and responsibilities.

Anyone, regardless of which pharmacy they use, can express their concerns regarding the need for accessibility or denial of accommodations to their State Board of Pharmacy. The purpose of a State Board of Pharmacy is to serve the public by protecting the health, safety and welfare of the people of that state. Go to https://nabp.pharmacy/boards-of-pharmacy/ to access your State Board of Pharmacy to find out how to file a complaint. Alternatively, call your State Board of Pharmacy via the phone number listed below:

Alabama 205-981-2280

Alaska 907-465-2550

Arizona 602-771-2727

Arkansas 501-682-0190

California 916-574-7900

Colorado 303-894-7800

Connecticut 860-713-6070

Delaware 302-744-4500

District of Columbia 202-724-8800

Florida 850-245-4292

Georgia 404-651-8000

Guam 671-735-7412

Hawaii 808-586-2695

Idaho 208-334-2356

Illinois 800-560-6420

Indiana 317-234-2067

Iowa 515-281-5944

Kansas 785-296-4056

Kentucky 502-564-7910

Louisiana 225-925-6496

Maine 207-624-8686

Maryland 410-764-4755

Massachusetts 617-973-0800

Michigan 517-373-8068

Mississippi 601-899-8880

Missouri 573-751-0091

Montana 406-841-2371

Nebraska 402-471-2118

Nevada 775-850-1440

New Hampshire 603-271-2350

New Jersey 973-504-6450

New Mexico 505-222-9830

North Carolina 919-246-1050

North Dakota 701-328-9535

Ohio 614-466-4143

Oklahoma 405-521-3815

Oregon 971-673-0001

Pennsylvania 717-783-7156

Puerto Rico 787-765-2929 ext. 6645

Rhode Island 401-222-2837

South Carolina 803-896-4707

South Dakota 605-362-2737

Tennessee 615-741-2718

Texas 512-305-8000

Utah 801-530-6628

Vermont 802-828-5032

Virgin Islands 340-713-6803

Virginia 804-367-4456

Washington 360-236-4946

Wisconsin 608-266-2112

Wyoming 307-634-9636

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