2004N-0221 - Medicare Modernization Act Section 107(f) - Study on Making Prescription Pharmaceutical Information Accessible for Blind and Visually-Impaired Individuals; Establishement of Docket
FDA Comment Number : EC14
Submitter : Mrs. Joyce Scanlan Date & Time: 07/07/2004 06:07:27
Organization : National Federation of the Blind
Individual Consumer
Category :
Issue Areas/Comments
B. Information About the Use of Prescription Medication Information By People Who Are Blind or Visually-Impaired
3. How can essential drug information be effectively communicated to people who are blind or visually impaired?
As more people lose eyesight, there will be greater need for better training in how to access medical information. Prescription information and usage instructions will be a serious issue for these seniors in increasing numbers. Many will give up and become the responsibility of nursing homes or assisted care facilities. Making talking devices or scanners available so that those who are blind or visually impaired can access their prescriptions and manage their own medications will make it possible for seniors to live independently and maintain confidentiality in matters of medical concern. Technology is already available to make it possible for those who are blind to have prescriptions with talking information available. This should be more broadly available through healthcare facilities and through pharmacies. Searching the internet is not a realistic method for most individuals of advanced age to seek out information about various medications. Many do not have computers, and many are very unfamiliar with accessing the internet.
1. How do people who are blind and visually-impaired currently get their prescription drug information?
In 1993, I began taking one pill. Having one medication poses no problem at all for identification, of course. Again, I made sure that either the physician or the pharmacist gave me necessary information about instructions for taking the medication. The medication was kept in a certain place, and I had no problem confusing my med with anyone else?s. The following year I began taking another medication along with aspirin, bringing my total number of meds to three. Still, the pills all had different shapes and their containers were distinguishable as well. Today, I take five different prescriptions and one aspirin each day. I take four whole pills, and the fifth must be broken in half; there is a nifty groove across the pill and it is easy to break in two. All of the pills have a different feel: shape and size; they are easily tacitly identifiable. Also, I have them lined up in a drawer to which I alone have access. To date, my medications have posed no problem. Because I have learned to read Braille, I do have the added option of labeling all my meds in Braille; however, at this point, that has not seemed necessary. I do think about how things might change as I age, possibly become forgetful, have trouble remembering or lose track of what I?m supposed to do. At this time, however, I am independently managing the taking of these meds without any problem.
2. What aspects of visual impairment are important to addressing the issue of access to prescription drug information?
The major complaint I have personally regarding prescriptions and instructions for using them is that I do not have privacy in obtaining the information. I cannot receive a prescription from the physician, have it filled at the pharmacy, and go home to read the information in the privacy of my home. Most people who are blind?in fact the vast majority of them?would prefer to deal with medical information, prescriptions, etc., without involving another person. As conditions are today, this is not possible. There is no confidentiality or privacy. Someone else will always
have very intimate information about a person who is blind who cannot access medical information or usage instructions for prescriptions privately