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On Stay Safe Rx you will find current events and resources advocating for safe prescription labeling practices. When patients struggle to see, read or understand their prescription labels they are more likely to take the wrong medication, take it improperly, or not take it at all. Pharmacies can make prescription labels more accessible by incorporating dual-language, audible, large print, Braille, plain language, and user-friendly designs. Check out the resources in the side bar to assist your own advocacy efforts or browse through posts to see what others are working on or have achieved.

Accessible Prescription Label Law Timeline

Note: Bills with strike through mean they were not passed but were included in history for reference.  Bills in italic are still pending in committee.

 1973: Rehabilitation Act banned discrimination on the basis of disability by recipients of federal funds

1977: Section 504 regulations were issued. It is these regulations which form the basis of the ADA

1990: Americans with Disabilities Act signed into law

2003: Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003. This Act required the DHHS to study how to make prescription pharmaceutical information, including drug labels and usage instructions, accessible for the blind and low vision. The DHHS formulated study questions and the AFB responded with information about the blind population, access to prescription information, and existing and emerging technologies.  They made some recommendations that the National Eye Health Education Program conduct an education program and publish materials letting patients and pharmacies know about assistive technologies and modalities for accessing prescription drug information. The NEHEP director, Neyal Ammary-Risch says that they never performed this work due to budget cuts and because the AFB published some really good information to their website and worked with the Pharmaceutical industry to create standards regarding labels (this occurred in 2012).

2004: Veterans Administration Announced the Standardization of Audible Prescription Reading Devices with ScripTalk as the standard.

2009: Indiana HB1627 introduced to require Braille or recorded audio device for prescription labels.  Engrossed.  No further action.

2009: Massachusetts Senate Bill 445 introduced An Act Relative to Coverage for Prescription Drug Voice Synthesizers. No further action.

2010: Indiana HB1240  introduced various insurance matters including language for accessible prescription drug labeling.  House Engrossed. No further action.

2010: ADA Amendments provided detailed and clarified instructions on how public accommodations—specifically citing pharmacies—must provide auxiliary aids and services to blind or low-vision customers in order to provide effective communication. The new language goes on specifically to list large-print materials, Braille materials, and accessible electronic and information technology as recommended solutions.

2012: Indiana House Bill 1301 introduced bill to provide tax credit for pharmacies piloting incorporation of assistive technologies into packaging of prescriptions for blind or visually impaired.  No further action.

2012: Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act

  • February 2012: HR 4087 sponsor, Congressman Edward J. Markey D-Mass
  • June 26, 2012: Senate passes S3187  Sponsor, Senator Tom Harken, D-IA
  • July 9, 2012: Signed by President Barack Obama
  • January 2015: Senator Markey requests feedback from major pharmacies on their progress of implementing “Best Practices
  • December 9, 2016  Government Accountability Office reports:  Actions Needed to Increase Awareness of Best Practices for Accessible Labels for Individuals Who are Blind or Visually Impaired”  http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-17-115
  • July 10, 2013: United States Access Board releases “Best Practices
  • National Council of Disability creates brochure. Full education campaign unfunded so not completed.

2016: Affordable Care Act Section 1557  Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities final rule issued.  § 92.202 Effective communication for individuals with disabilities.  A covered entity must provide auxiliary aids and services to individuals with disabilities free of charge and in a timely manner when necessary to ensure an equal opportunity to participate and benefit from the entity’s health programs or activities.

2016  Government Accountability Office reports:  Actions Needed to Increase Awareness of Best Practices for Accessible Labels for Individuals Who are Blind or Visually Impaired”  http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-17-115

2017 Nevada SB 131 Requires pharmacies to tell customers that audible prescription reader is available. Enacted into Law

2018 Ohio HB 659 Engrossed. No further action.

2019 Oregon HB 2935 Requires pharmacies to notify and provide patients with audible prescription labels  Enacted Into Law.

2019  Pennsylvania HB 125 require pharmacies to make accessible prescription drug container labels available to individuals who are deaf blind and visually-impaired when requested. No further action.

2019 Massachusetts S1252 legislation relative to accessible prescription labeling. No further action.

2019 Ohio HB 214 shall notify the person purchasing the drug that a prescription reader can be made available. If that person requests a prescription reader,the terminal distributor shall provide a prescription reader forat least the duration of the prescription. In Health Committee

2020 Minnesota SF 3152 and HF3370 requiring pharmacists to dispense a prescription using an

audible container label or braille container label. In Committees.