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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

New Prescription Labeling Guidelines Promote Medication Safety for People with Vision Loss

March 4, 2008 (New York, NY)—To help the 20 million people with vision loss properly identify prescription medications, the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP) Foundation joined forces with the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) to develop "Guidelines for Prescription Labeling and Consumer Medication Information (CMI) for Persons with Vision Loss." The Guidelines provide pharmacists and pharmacies with specific recommendations for making important medication information accessible to patients with vision loss and will serve as a resource for persons with vision loss and organizations serving this population.

Access to prescription information, including drug labels and usage instructions, is essential for the correct taking of medication. For individuals with vision loss, not being able to read this information is a particularly dangerous problem. Currently, people with vision loss must rely on memory, use compensatory strategies or devices, or depend on someone else for help. As a result, many people with vision loss and older adults with reduced visual acuity are unable to "access" important instructions for use and safety information from prescription labels and CMI.

"The lack of accessible prescription and over-the-counter medication label information poses a serious public health threat due to the potential misidentification and misuse of drugs," said Judy Scott, Director of the AFB Center on Vision Loss. "These guidelines will allow consumers with vision loss ready access to the vital information on medication labeling, enabling them to take medications safely, effectively, and independently."

There are currently no requirements for the format of information on prescription labels, and existing formatting requirements for CMI are inadequate for persons with vision loss. To address this problem, the ASCP Foundation and AFB convened an advisory board ­ comprised of individuals from vision loss organizations, government, pharmacy, and pharmacy system vendors ­ to identify components of the Guidelines and specific format recommendations.

In addition to specific format recommendations for prescription labeling and CMI, the Guidelines also provide suggestions for making information accessible to people for whom larger print is not useful and general information on assistive technology, resources, and services that pharmacists and pharmacies can share with their patients with vision loss. The full guidelines are available at www.ascpfoundation.org.

This project was funded by the American Foundation for the Blind, American Society of Consultant Pharmacists Foundation, and a vendor contract from Pfizer Inc.

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The ASCP Foundation is the research and education affiliate of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP). The ASCP Foundation has a proven track record of developing practical interventions for improving medication use in the senior population. The mission of the ASCP Foundation is to foster appropriate, effective, and safe medication use in older persons. The unique focus of the ASCP Foundation is the development, integration, and application of knowledge regarding medication use in the senior population and the practice of senior care pharmacy to optimize health outcomes. The ASCP Foundation has a history of leadership, innovation, and expertise in medicines and aging and has collaborated with numerous organizations to address the information and education needs of consumers, families, caregivers, health care professionals, and the aging network regarding medication use. Visit the ASCP Foundation's web site at www.ascpfoundation.org.

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is a national nonprofit that expands possibilities for people with vision loss. AFB's priorities include broadening access to technology; elevating the quality of information and tools for the professionals who serve people with vision loss; and promoting independent and healthy living for people with vision loss by providing them and their families with relevant and timely resources. AFB is also proud to house the Helen Keller Archives and honor the over forty years that Helen Keller worked tirelessly with AFB. For more information visit us online at www.afb.org.

The American Foundation for the Blind created AFB Senior Site to help older Americans and their family members cope with age-related eye diseases-a growing public health problem in this country. Learn more at www.afb.org/seniorsite.

AFB has embarked on the Rx Label Enable campaign to ensure that people with vision loss have ready access to the vital information available to all consumers via prescription labeling and consumer medication information, enabling them to take medications safely, effectively, and independently. AFB is reaching out to all stakeholders, including consumers experiencing vision loss, policymakers, federal regulators, doctors, the pharmaceutical industry, retailers, assistive technology providers, and public and private insurers to promote solutions, build consensus, and take action. For more information visit AFB at www.afb.org/labels.

For more information, contact:
Caitlin McFeely
American Foundation for the Blind
212-502-7674
cmcfeely@afb.net

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