California Pharmacies Urged to Translate Prescription Labels

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The push is on to make prescription translations mandatory in California. Cheryl Hurd reports. (Published Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014)

    The push is on to make prescription translations mandatory in California.

    According to the United States Pharmacopeial Convention, a lack of universal standards for labeling on dispensed prescription containers is a root cause for patients misunderstanding the drugs they are taking.

    "If people can't read the prescription bottle, it's a really dangerous situation," said Dr. David Margolius, who works in internal medicine and has been outspoken when it comes to pushing for mandatory translations for prescriptions. "If a label doesn't make sense to the people who are taking the medication, they are already at a disadvantage."

    Statistics show more than 700,000 emergency room visits across the county are caused by not taking drugs properly. In addition, hospitals are spending nearly $6 million a year on treating those patients.

    State Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, is pushing for legislation to conduct a survey on the controversial issue.

    Jimmy Yuen, who owns Advance Medical Pharmacy in Walnut Creek, provides labels on his medications in both English and Spanish. He said it is not a problem for him because of the limited service he is providing for his Spanish-speaking customers.

    But Yuen said making that service mandatory could become a problem.

    "I think technology is not there yet to ensure a high level of accuracy," he said.

    A public hearing on the issue is scheduled for Thursday in Sacramento.