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Know Your Rights
Source: AM New York
Subject: Language Access
Type: Media Coverage

Advocates: Some Pharmacies Leave New Yorkers Lost in Translation

Yorkers who speak limited or no English are risking their lives when they use a
pharmacy that doesn’t translate instructions or warnings on prescriptions,
immigrant advocates said yesterday.

Rivera, a 49-year-old Rockaway
Beach resident, found
herself in detox after a pharmacist couldn’t tell her in her native Spanish
that she should only take her nerve medication for 15 days. Rivera took the
medicine for a month, and practically became addicted to the drug that also
left her so drowsy and dizzy she had to rely on her son to help her to the

"I went to
the pharmacy and asked, ‘What does this mean? What does this mean?’ And they couldn’t
tell me in my language," she said. "They didn’t help me. I tried to get help,
and that’s why I had the problem."

About 75
percent of New York
pharmacies do not offer translations of prescription information, Public
Advocate Betsy Gotbaum and immigrant advocacy group Make the Road New
yesterday at a news conference at City Hall. Gotbaum recently introduced
legislation that would require pharmacies to translate prescription

understanding a prescription you are given is a basic right, yet pharmacies all
around the city are allowing New Yorkers to take home medication with
instructions they can’t understand," Gotbaum said in a statement.

legislation comes on the heels of an agreement last month between the attorney
general’s office and CVS and Rite Aid, which promised to provide prescription
instructions in customers’ primary language. Make the Road New
filed a
complaint with the attorney general about the lack of translation services last

Reade, which was not singled out by the public advocate, said yesterday that
certain stores offer translation on request and has many bilingual pharmacists.

are also working to expand our capabilities to better serve the diverse New York City
community," the company said in a statement.