Pharmacy Label Prescription Readers or “Talking Prescription Labels”
Interesting that the State of Nevada just passed a law that will require all retail community pharmacies to notify their patients that prescription readers are available. Is this leading to a Federal law that will eventually require prescription readers in all US community retail pharmacies for the elderly and blind patients? Many believe the answer is yes. With Healthcare such a major political and economic issue these days, numerous studies have been undertaken in an attempt to define controlling costs and focusing on such issues as drug compliance and adverse effects of medications in the elderly and handicapped patient population.
The Real Issue
The basis of the new Nevada law basically stems from the proof that prescription drug errors and mistakes are killing the elderly and handicapped, plus costing billions of wasted tax payer dollars. Consider some of the following studies and their findings –
1. A study released by the NIH (National Institute of Health) found that 55% of seniors take their medications incorrectly.
2. 4.3 percent of the elderly enrolled in Medicare social HMOs required assistance with the administration of their prescription medications.
3. According to US News, taking prescribed medications is the fourth leading cause of death and hospitalizations for senior citizens in the US due to “preventable errors” such as elderly patients taking their medications incorrectly.
4. Deaths due to these “preventable adverse events” from prescriptions in the US exceed the deaths attributable to motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer or AIDS according to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.
5. Total national costs are estimated to be between $17 billion and $29 billion for these “preventable adverse events”.
What the Nevada Law Requires
The Nevada Senate Bill 131 (NRS 639.2801) aims to protect the state’s elderly, blind and visually impaired patients from taking the wrong medications and/or taking their medications incorrectly. The law will go into effect on January 1st of 2018. The new legislation requires that all retail community pharmacies that dispense prescriptions notify their patients that prescription drug label readers are available. Additionally, the law requires that the retail pharmacies provide prescription readers free of charge upon request (for at least the duration of the treatment). The pharmacy must make sure that the label or other device attached to the Rx prescription container conveys to the patient via the prescription reader all the information required to take the medication safely. This does not apply if the prescription is not dispensed in a container with an affixed label or if the medication is dispensed by US mail. In other words, the new law does not apply to mail-order pharmacies (who dispense prescriptions only through the US mail), nor to institutional pharmacies or any pharmacies operated by a government agency.
What Should Your Pharmacy Do?
Be proactive! Adherence to such standards being set by the new Nevada law should be embraced by all pharmacies nationally. Acting now by proactively conforming to the inevitable use of prescription drug label readers will result in two things for your pharmacy business:
1. You will be ready with your policies and procedures if (when) your state passes a similar law.
2. You will stand out to your patients and your local community as being a leader in both patient advocacy and technology in regards to pharmacy.
It is interesting to note that Walgreens actually spearheaded the introduction of what they called “Talking Prescription Labels” in 2014. The national chain now provides these “talking prescription labels” to patients with visual impairments nationally in its stores at no charge. Walgreens has received numerous accolades for their program, including endorsements from the American Council of the Blind, plus from the Illinois and California Councils of the Blind.
If you are considering prescription readers or “Talking Prescription Labels” for your patients and have any questions, we urge you to contact Healthcare Consultants today! HCC is a full service Pharmacy Consulting firm that has been in business for over 27 years helping pharmacies plan, prepare and deal with business issues. HCC is owned and operated by pharmacists who are experts in the development and implementation of policies and procedures in all areas of Pharmacy practice. It is also a good opportunity for you to ensure that your pharmacy is in compliance with all state licensing requirements and to have all of your pharmacies’ policies and procedures reviewed by experts. Contact us on line or call us today at 800-642-1652 to discuss how we can help you