En Español Know Your Rights
Source: Associated Press
Subject: Language Access
Type: Media Coverage

NY pharmacies to translate drug instructions

Many
non-English speakers will soon be able to read prescription drug instructions
in their primary language.

 


Five major
pharmacy chains agreed Tuesday to print drug instructions at their New York stores in five
languages other than English and indicated that they plan to expand the option
to other states.

 


The
companies are Target, Wal-Mart, Costco, Duane Reade and A&P. The agreements
will also require the companies to provide oral assistance in more than 150
languages.

 


The
companies, which together have 700 stores in New York state, agreed with state Attorney
General Andrew Cuomo to counsel and provide written translations in Spanish,
Chinese, Italian, Russian and French.

 


The
companies didn’t agree to Polish translations, although other pharmacies agreed
to that in previous deals with the attorney general.
 

Pharmacists
in New York
must personally provide information about prescription drugs to all patients,
orally and in writing, and pharmacies are prohibited from conducting business
in a way that discriminates against non-English speakers.

 

According
to census data, more than a million New Yorkers do not speak English "well
or at all."

 


Cuomo
started investigating pharmacy policies and procedures after getting complaints
from the organization
Make the Road New York, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit that
supports New York City‘s
low-income and immigrant population.

 


The
investigation found that pharmacies routinely fail to advise non-English
speaking customers in their own language about the purpose, dosage and side
effects of their medications.

 


Cuomo
reached similar agreements last year with Rite Aid and CVS pharmacies.

 


"Prescription
information can literally be a matter of life and death," Cuomo said in a
written statement.