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Know Your Rights
Source: Times Union
Subject: Health Justice & Access
Type: Media Coverage

Letter: Ensure balanced SafeRx decisions

The state Board of Pharmacy is responsible for implementing SafeRx regulations requiring pharmacies to provide multilingual counseling and medication instructions, and patient centered medication labels by March 2013. They scheduled three opportunities for public input, including one that took place in Albany last Thursday.

However, the Board of Pharmacy is comprised only of pharmacy industry representatives, despite SafeRx directly impacting senior citizens and people with limited English proficiency. For example, in 23 counties, including Albany County, 10 percent or more of the population speaks a language other than English in their home. Additionally, New York is home to 3.4 million seniors, who have difficulty comprehending prescription labels as they age and their cognitive function diminishes.

It is imperative decisions about SafeRx be balanced with the views of consumers.

Without the consumer voice, SafeRx regulations may represent pharmacists’ interests rather than patients. The final regulations may only require limited language services. It is our hope that the board will take steps toward ensuring that patients across the state can understand how to take their medications safely, and ensure that people with limited English proficiency and seniors are heard.

Nisha Agarwal

Deputy director

Center for

Popular Democracy;

Theo Oshiro

Deputy director

Make the Road New York

Jennifer Swayne

Health justice program

staff attorney

New York Lawyers

for the Public Interest

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