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Know Your Rights
Source: Newsday
Subject: Language Access
Type: Media Coverage

Major pharmacies on LI to translate prescriptions

The more
than one million non-English speaking New Yorkers will soon be able to get
prescriptions in their primary languages from pharmacies at big-box department
stores, drugstore chains and many supermarket chains, New York State Attorney
General Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday.

Target, Costco, Duane Reade, A&P, Pathmark, Super Fresh, and Food Emporium
are among the chains on Long Island and around the state who have agreed to
provide counseling and written prescription information to non-English speaking
customers in five languages – Spanish, Chinese, Italian, Russian, and French –
by the end of the year, Cuomo said in a statement.

Those are
the five most common non-English languages used in New York State
– each by more than 1 percent of the population. The Rite-Aid and CVS drugstore
chains previously agreed to do the same.

need to provide prescription information can literally be a matter of life and
death," Cuomo said. "There are over one million people in New York who don’t speak
English as their first language, and this agreement will ensure they have the
medical information needed to protect their health and well-being and that of
their families."

addition to the prescription information available in the five languages by
year’s end, information in 150 languages should be available next year,
executive deputy attorney general Mylan Denerstein, said at a news conference
at Cuomo’s office in Brooklyn. The information
will be provided by a professional translation service connected to pharmacies
by phone lines.

The more
than one million non-English speakers represent about 5.2 percent of the
state’s population. Cuomo defined the non-English speakers as those who could
not speak English "well or at all."

investigation by his office had found that inability to understand English on
prescriptions had caused non-English speakers to suffer allergic reactions and
other side effects.

New York State law requires pharmacists do not
discriminate, the attorney general said. Yet his office’s undercover
investigation found pharmacists "routinely fail" to provide
non-English speakers with adequate information on dosages and side effects,
Cuomo said.

The investigation
was triggered by a complaint from
Make the Road to New York, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit that
supports New York City‘s
low-income and immigrant population. Co-director
Andrew Friedman said in a statement, "Quite simply, if a person cannot understand
the medication they are taking, they are at risk of harming themselves."