Feds urge accessible labels for prescription drugs

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Photo of several bottles of medications.

Accessible Labelling

A Congressionally-appointed panel has released guidelines for making prescription drug labels accessible to people with visual disabilities.

The guidelines call on pharmaceutical companies to ensure labels are available in Braille, large print and other auditory technologies. In addition, the panel urges companies to adopt other best practices for dealing with each accessible option.

The panel’s recommendations are only advisory and thus are not legally binding. However, the its members hope the guidelines will make it safer for people with visual disabilities to use potentially dangerous medications.

“Many people who cannot read print or fine type, whether it’s due to a disability or is age-related, cannot safely and independently take their own medications,” Access Board Chair Karen L. Braitmayer said in a news release. “The information issued by the Board’s working group provides much-needed guidance to pharmacists on steps they can take voluntarily to ensure that label information is independently and reliably accessible to all of their customers.”

Congress created the panel, known as the Working Group on Accessible Prescription Drug Container Labels, as part of the 2012 Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act. The 18-member panel was directed to approve guidelines within one year.

The National Council on Disability will work with the panel to conduct an awareness campaign promoting the guidelines.

The panel included representatives from the American Council of the Blind, the American Foundation for the Blind, the Blinded Veterans Association, the Council of Citizens with Low Vision International, the National Council on Independent Living and the National Federation of the Blind.