On July 9, President Barack Obama signed into law the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act, which brings us a step closer to ensuring Americans with vision disabilities have access to the important information on their prescription labels. The Act includes provisions that establish national best practices for retail and other pharmacies to use in providing accessible prescription drug labeling to customers with vision disabilities. This includes proper dosage, the name of the medication, accompanying information about possible side effects, and more.
“We applaud President Obama and Congress for taking this important step,” said Carl R. Augusto, president and CEO of the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). “AFB has been working on this issue for many years and we’re thrilled that this is now a reality.”
The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) has long championed safe and effective ways to address the significant public health challenge of inaccessible prescription drug labeling. Past studies have shown the dangers posed by the inability to access necessary instructions that accompany prescription and over-the-counter medications, including illness, emergency room visits and the reliance upon sighted companions—or even strangers.
“The significance of this measure cannot be understated,” said Mark Richert, Director of Public Policy at the American Foundation for the Blind. “For the more than 20 million Americans living with vision loss, being unable to read drug container labels and package inserts is a scary reality.”
The provisions in the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act will serve as a valuable supplement to existing requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal and state laws imposing obligations on pharmacies to ensure effective communication and barrier removal for people with disabilities. Whether this new legislation entails that medication instructions and inserts be available in large print, braille, or via an assistive technology device remains to be seen.