Virginia Governor Signs Accessible Prescription Labeling into Law

 Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin signed House Bill 516 into law. This bill was brought forward by Delegate Patrick Hope on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia that gave testimony regarding the need for accessible prescription labeling for the blind and visually impaired of Virginia.

All of the pharmacy associations within Virginia provided feedback and suggestions on how this bill could be made flexible enough to not hurt struggling independent pharmacies and pharmacies that already have some sort of provision in place.  The end product is a law that allows for patients and pharmacists to work  together to decide the best and safest solution with the unique needs and preferences of the patient in mind. 

The details of the law:

Pharmacies will have to notify patients that identify as blind, visually impaired or print disabled that accessible prescription labels or other accommodations are available. 

Then pharmacists and patients have two options: 

Pharmacies can provide, either in person or through mail order, an accessible prescription label affixed to the prescription container and a prescription reader if the label requires one;

Or, pharmacists can provide appropriate counseling and accommodation and dispense the medication in suitable packaging with sufficient labeling and other information. (This is aimed to allow pharmacists to provide solutions like daily pill packaging and other medication management solutions.)

The accessible label must be provided to the person in a timely manner comparable to other patient wait times and be available for the duration of the prescription.  

Accessible label formats can include audible, large print or other enclosures that are appropriate to the disability and preference of the person making the request and should seek to attain to the best practices established by the US Access Board

The Virginia Board of Pharmacy has until December 31, 2024 to adoption regulations necessary to implement the law.  And is required to issue a guidance document identifying appropriate technologies, packaging, labeling, and counseling strategies based on the US Access Board's best practices.  

One key take away:

Patients will need to clearly communicate and firmly establish what their needs and preferences are and what "sufficient labeling" means to them.