Editor’s Note: This post is the second part of a two part series on accessible prescription medication for the visually impaired. Many changes have been taking place in the pharmaceutical industry to create better access to medication labels, bottles and printed information. These changes will hopefully bring about more and better independence in overall medication management.
You know those phrases of disclaimer that come at the end of radio commercials--"Some assembly required. Sorry, Tennessee!"--well, there are quite a few special circumstances to bear in mind when shopping for medication that you will be able to handle independently. For openers, we don't know of any pharmacy that offers multiple accessible solutions. The alternative is to learn something about every accessible solution and then find out which one your store of choice offers. If their solution doesn't appeal, you might decide to go for a pharmacy that offers a solution you prefer.
Some outlets may offer no solution at all, in which case they are in technical violation of the new law as of January 2015. Bring that matter to the attention of management, and do not hesitate to talk up the accessible solution that sounds the best to you.
Here is a summary of What We Know So Far:
Walgreen's (over 8,600 stores in all 50 US states) has an exclusive relationship with the source of Talking Pill Reminder. If you are arranging for a mail order, there is a phone number you need to use to ask for the Talking Reminder at the time you order your medicine. The number is 800-345-1985; ask to speak to a customer advocate. If you are a walk-in Walgreen's customer, contact the store pharmacy manager to find out if there are any Talking Pill Reminders in the store. When we checked, many local stores had at least one of the units, and their managers were aware of the product's purpose, but a few stores were out of the loop, so to speak, and their managers only caught up when we brought the issue to their attention.
The Digital Audio Label had not been officially adopted by any national providers by press time. There was some talk of a pilot program among some Target outlets, so you might check with your local Target manager if you are interested in the Digital Audio Label. For later information about pharmacies that use the Digital Audio Label, contact Chad Hazen of AccessaMed at 360-773-0060.
The ScripTalk Station is offered for mail orders through CVS Pharmacy and Walmart. There may be some local in-store availability, so check with the local pharmacy manager at your nearest CVS or Walmart. You will need to arrange with Envision America for the free loan of a ScripTalk Station. The toll-free number to do that is 855-773-2579. That same number should yield information about how you could arrange for CVS or Walmart mail orders in conjunction with the ScripTalk hardware and labels.
Whichever numbers you call, be prepared for the possibility that you'll be asked for documentation of need, that is to say, written proof of limited sight. Those with a handy copy of a "limited vision" statement from a doctor or even a well-known agency in the field may get a quick pass, depending on how motivated the gatekeepers are to hold down demand for the new accessible solutions. Surely, over time, the process of proving need will become routine and standardized as corporate executives come to realize that checking credentials costs money, while selling accessible medicines generates revenue. The bad news is that the current situation in accessible medication labels is a jumble of complexity and rapidly changing restrictions/opportunities. The good news is that the new legal mandate offers a financial motive to providers that will, one day, open a new window of opportunity for consumers to read the label as easily as they can locate the bottle itself.
As we wrap up this two part series what do you think about the availability of accessible medications? Have you accessed any of the above accessible methods at your local pharmacy? If so what was your experience? Share your comments below.
The above article was first published in DIALOGUE Magazine, fall 2014. For a free sample issue of DIALOGUE or information about other publications, contact Blindskills, Inc., P.O. Box 5181, Salem, OR 97304-0181; Phone: 800-860-4224; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: www.blindskills.com.