May 29, 2012

ALERT! Senate Passes Accessible Drug Label Bill!

For further information, contact:

Mark Richert, Esq.
Director, Public Policy, AFB
(202) 469-6833

Yesterday, by a vote of 96 to 1, the U.S. Senate passed a massive package of policy updates known as the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act. Read more about the legislation at:

The Senate-passed version of this bill includes provisions that would establish national best practices for retail and other pharmacies to use in providing accessible prescription drug labeling to their customers with vision loss. Once these best practices are promulgated, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study will assess the extent to which pharmacies are employing such best practices and improving access. Once enacted, these provisions will serve as a valuable supplement to existing requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal and state laws imposing obligations on pharmacies to ensure effective communication and barrier removal for people with disabilities.

While the House's treatment of this legislation is less certain, observers seem to think that action on the Senate bill or on the House's companion legislation this year has an excellent chance in spite of the contentious political environment. While the House version does not yet include the drug label accessibility language, the Chair of the House committee with jurisdiction over the bill, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), affirmed at a recent hearing on the measure that he is committed to working on inclusion of the drug label language during the conference process, meaning that if the House acts on its own bill, House Republican leadership seem willing to advocate for drug label access language as the House and Senate work to resolve their differences.

Stay tuned to AFB-DC for updates on next steps for advocates to take in the House as this important work moves forward. Special thanks to the many advocates and organizations who took time, as previously invited via AFB-DC, to thank key Senate leadership for championing accessible prescription labeling.

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