Commends CVS for new “talking” prescription labels


– Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today sent letters to a dozen pharmacies requesting information on their efforts to make prescription drug label information accessible to patients who are blind, visually-impaired or elderly with deteriorating vision. There are at least 20.6 million Americans who experience vision loss preventing them from reading important prescription drug label information independently. In his letters, Senator Markey asks the twelve pharmacies what steps they have taken to adopt or implement best practices for blind or visually-impaired individuals, including providing information in braille or large print, offering audible devices to deliver information, and any costs for making drug labeling information available. Earlier this week, CVS announced it is now offering its mail service customers talking prescription labels through its “ScripTalk” system, as well as braille and large print labels for free its customers who are blind or visually-impaired.


“Pharmacies are important partners in empowering our visually impaired citizens to take full control of their health,” said Senator Markey. “Putting health and prescription drug information into the hands and ears of patients who are blind or visually-impaired is critical to ensuring safety and promoting independence.


“I commend CVS for providing options for those who are visually impaired, and I encourage all pharmacies to adopt policies, technologies and services that are readily available and will help promote and protect the health of all customers.”


A copy of the letters to the pharmacies can be found HERE. Senator Markey sent letters to CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Wal-Mart, Express Scripts, Target, Safeway, Kroger, UnitedHealth Group, Sears/Kmart, Costco, and Medicine Shoppe International.


In 2012, Senator Markey’s “Prescription Drug Labeling Promotion Act” was passed as part of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Safety and Innovation Act, ensuring that the blind and visually-impaired have safe and independent access to the information on prescription drug labels. The law established a working group of pharmacists, patient advocates, and federal regulators that issued recommendations of best practices for pharmacies to ensure that people who are blind or visually-impaired have access to prescription drug labeling. The law also instructs the Government Accountability Office to analyze the degree to which pharmacists are adhering to the law and whether there continues to be a lack of access to prescription drug labeling for the blind and visually-impaired.