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How Specialty Pharmacies Cater to the Blind and Those With Impaired Vision

  • September 21, 2021

Some improvements have been made, and states have taken the lead on pharmacy oversight. A few, including Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Maine, are exploring legislation that would require pharmacies to provide prescription labels in Braille, large print, high-contrast and with audio. In 2018, Nevada passed a law requiring pharmacies to provide a prescription reader or to help patients obtain one, and Oregon passed a similar law in 2019.

Nestled in a nondescript mini-mall, next to a Pizza Hut and a partially vacant building, Accessible Pharmacy operates in Fairless Hills, Penn. Concierge agents speak with each patient on the phone, coordinate refills and drug interaction questions with their doctors and consult resident pharmacists. A packaging and labeling menu for prescriptions includes Braille, large print, and audio — all free of charge.

“We decided to create a company where accessibility and reduction of barriers would be our primary focus with an incredibly welcoming sense of hospitality,” said Alex Cohen, 45, company co-founder and professor of marketing at West Chester University outside of Philadelphia, and one-time general manager of a hotel. He became blind after being diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic degenerative disease, when he was 20.

Accessible Pharmacy, which launched in May 2020, resulted from collaboration between Mr. Cohen, the chief marketing and accessibility officer, and Andy Burstein, the chief executive.

“It’s still like the Wild West for us in terms of reliably and consistently finding solutions at the national level,” said Mr. Chong, 67. He gets his prescriptions from Accessible Pharmacy with ScripTalk. A tag is placed on the bottom of each pill container that is programmed to include medication information. It can be read aloud using the ScripTalk app on his iPhone or with a free-standing device. (En-Vision America, the manufacturer, said ScripTalk is available in 25 languages and is used by over 20,000 people.)

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