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Know Your Rights
Source: Make the Road New York
Subject: Language Access
Type: Media Coverage

Make the Road New York Rallies for Translation in Pharmacies

On October 31, Make the Road New York staged a press conference to protest the lack of translation services in pharmacies throughout New York City.  This event was the first combined action by Make the Road New York’s Brooklyn and Queens contingents since the merging of Make the Road By Walking and the Latin American Integration Center in October.

Over a hundred MRNY members gathered outside the Rite Aid Pharmacy in Woodside, joined by City Councilman Eric Gioia, to voice their concerns that without proper translation people with limited English proficiency cannot understand how to take their medicine properly.  Such lack of understanding can result in overdose or even death.  This problem has been affecting immigrant communities for years, particularly in Brooklyn and Queens. 

During the press conference, Co-Executive Director Ana Maria Archila announced that MRNY would be partnering with the New York Immigration Coalition Health Collaborative in filing a civil rights complaint with the New York State Attorney General’s office.  She called on the Attorney General to work toward solutions to this problem for New Yorkers with limited English proficiency. 

MRNY presented its report, "Bad Medicine," written with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, which documents many cases of overdose and misuse of prescriptions due to pharmacy negligence.  By not providing translation services, MRNY argues the pharmacies are discriminating based on national origin and denying people equal access to health care.  The report implicates six pharmacies operated by Rite Aid, three by CVS, three Duane Reade stores, a Wal-Mart, a Walgreens and two local pharmacies.

The event was covered by the New York Times and the Daily News as well as several Spanish language newspapers and local print and television media.

The Attorney General’s office is currently conducting an investigation and several pharmacies have stated that they will comply with the results.  MRNY will continue to advocate for translation services in coalition with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and New York Immigration Coalition to ensure that all immigrants receive safe and reliable access to health care.