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Know Your Rights
Source: Kaiser Health News
Subject: Language Access
Type: Media Coverage

CVS, Rite Aid Will Provide Language Services for Non-English-Speaking Customers Filling Prescriptions in New York State

CVS and Rite Aid pharmacies in New York have agreed to provide customers who fill prescriptions with spoken and written language services in Chinese, French, Italian, Russian, Polish and Spanish, state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D) announced on Thursday, Long Island Newsday reports. The estimated cost of implementation of the agreements, which will affect more than 2,000 pharmacies in New York, remains undetermined.

According to a statement, the agreements come after Cuomo launched an undercover investigation in response to a complaint from the not-for-profit organization Make the Road New York that pharmacies "routinely fail to advise non-English-speaking customers in a language that allows them to understand the purpose, dosage and side effects of their medications." New York law mandates that pharmacies "personally provide information about prescription drugs to all patients, orally and in writing," according to the statement.

Cheryl Slavinksy, director of public relations for Rite Aid, said that the company began to work on the language services before the investigation began. "We do believe it’s important for people to get the right medication advice for their prescriptions," she said.

Mike DeAngelis, director of public relations for CVS, in a statement said that in the past the company has provided language services, such as "telephonic language interpretation services for over 150 languages to assist our pharmacists in their counseling of patients who are not proficient in English" (Chang, Long Island Newsday, 11/13).