The National Council on Disability (NCD) has issued a brochure on best practices for making prescription drug container labels accessible to people with vision impairments or who are elderly. The new brochure, which is based on recommendations from a U.S. Access Board stakeholder panel, outlines voluntary methods that pharmacists can use to provide access to drug label information for their customers. These include braille and large print, as well as newer technologies such as digital voice or text-to-speech recorders, radio frequency identification tags, and smart devices and computers. The brochure also provides best practices to follow with these formats, such as maintaining patient privacy in preparing labels and selecting containers that best support the type of accessible label provided. This guidance is advisory only and is not mandatory.
Implementing these practices will provide those unable to read print or small type access to the important information contained on labels for prescription medications, including dosage and other instructions, side effects, and expiration dates. NCD, which advises the President, Congress, and federal agencies on policies, programs, and practices affecting people with disabilities, is making this information available to pharmacies and industry associations for dissemination to affiliates and members. Members of the public are also welcome to download the brochure and share it with their local pharmacy.
The guidance is based on recommendations developed by a stakeholder working group organized by the Access Board. The Working Group on Accessible Prescription Drug Container Labels, which included representatives from advocacy organizations and industry, assessed various methods for making drug labels accessible and issued its findings in a report to the Board in July 2013. Since release of the report, various national pharmacy chains have adopted methods for providing drug label information in accessible formats. This work was authorized by the "Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act of 2012" which directed the Board to develop the best practice recommendations through a working group and tasked NCD with undertaking an awareness campaign to inform pharmacies and the public of this voluntary guidance. The law also calls upon the Comptroller General to conduct a review to assess the extent to which pharmacies are implementing the best practices and to determine whether barriers to prescription drug labels remain.