Legislation authored by Senate Majority Leader Ellen M. Corbett (D-San Leandro) has passed the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee which requires pharmacists to use larger typeface in prescriptions and also to use the translated 'standard directions for use' in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Russian on prescription labels, if requested.
By standardizing prescription drug labels, these will be more patient-centered, said Corbett, whose senate district represents Pleasanton.
The state senator said that a survey found that 60% of participants believed that larger or bolder print would make prescription labels easier to read. Her bill, SB 205, requires pharmacists to print specific items on a prescription label in at least 12 point, sans serif typeface to make it easier for patients to read.
"SB 205 is a patient-centered bill that prevents needless medication use errors by simply requiring pharmacists to print specific items on prescription labels in at least 12 point font," Corbett said. "Patients should not have to struggle to read their prescriptions since that critical information can clearly keep patients safe and potentially save their lives."
According to Corbett, the California Department on Aging reports that from 1990 to 2020, California's population over 60 years of age will increase by over 110%. Many seniors have expressed difficulty reading the current small print on their prescription labels and, for those who take multiple medications, their inability to read the label properly places them in serious danger. Medications that are taken incorrectly or mixed with other medications can cause dangerous reactions that can lead to injury and death.
The Translated Prescription Label bill (SB 204), which also received the committee's endorsement Monday, was sponsored by the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network. It requires pharmacists to use the translated 'standard directions for use' currently available on the Board of Pharmacy's Web site.
"SB 204 is primarily meant to ensure that the increasing number of limited English proficient Californians can read and understand their prescriptions, thereby minimizing the potential of accidental misuse and even death," Corbett said.
"Clearly, if a prescription label is written in a language other than one that an individual can understand, the potential for accidental poisoning rises dramatically," she explained. "It is safer and more cost-effective to prevent this harm in the first place."