By Jule Ann Lieberman, Bobbi Simmons, and Cathy Long, Vision Loss Resource Team
Prescription bottle information may seem unavailable to you as you experience vision loss or blindness. This article will give you suggestions on how you can safely and independently take the medicines your doctor has prescribed. Today, important information about your prescription medications can be provided to you in the format that meets your needs. This could include audio, large print, braille, or an accessible PDF file. This information is vital for preventing medication misuse or inadvertent mistakes.
Let us start with what is referred to as “talking prescription labels.” Currently, there are two ways in which you can have the information in an audio form. Many of our readers have become aware of the ScripTalk System which consists of an RFID label placed on the medication bottle by the pharmacist. This label can be read aloud by a talking device called ScripTalk, produced by Envision America. If you currently receive services from the National Library Service’s talking book program, you can apply for the ScripTalk device and request that your prescriptions contain this special label. Envision America can also assist in finding a pharmacy near you that works with ScripTalk. For more information and to enroll to receive a ScripTalk desktop device call 800-890-1180. For patients with smartphones, ScripTalk now offers an accessible app which will use either VoiceOver or TalkBack to read the RFID label aloud.
Did you ever wonder what information was included on your medication label? The ScripTalk label includes prescription number, instructions and dosage, prescribing physician, refills available, date filled, and expiration date. Plus, it gives any warnings such as “Must take with meals” or “Do not use alcohol when taking this medication.” It also may contain additional warnings such as side effects. Did you know that some medications are affected when taken at the same time as other medications or even when drinking grapefruit juice or other citrus juices? ScripTalk helps you make sure you are taking medications safely and at prescribed times.
Pharmacies that provide ScripTalk labels for store pick up are Walmart, Sam’s Club, Costco, and Rite Aid pharmacies. Walmart and Sam’s Club can provide the reader device upon request and attach the RFID label for you.
Costco and Rite Aid Pharmacy will have your prescription with the RFID label attached and shipped to the store location for pick up within a few days.
You can choose to have all your medications shipped to you with the ScripTalk labels from online pharmacies such as CVS Caremark, Humana Pharmacy, Express Scripts and Optum RX. Ask your physician to add these options for shipping your medications in your chart.
Contact customer service at CVS Caremark by calling 1-800-552-8159.
Humana Pharmacy members can request ScripTalk prescriptions by calling 800-379-0092.
The second audio option is the Talking Prescription Bottle that Walgreens provides free. This is a digital recording made by the pharmacist which contains the information as printed on the label. Walgreens will provide the talking bottle service upon request. It is a cap that enables the pharmacist to record important information regarding your prescription like that provided with ScripTalk, but in a human recording. You can also purchase the Talking Prescription Bottle Cap to be used on other bottles such as over-the-counter medication. The cap can be recorded with dosage and warnings. One drawback of this cap is that it contains a battery which may need replacement. Also, the cap is only one size, which means you may have to transfer the over-the-counter medication to a bottle the lid fits.
CVS Pharmacy recently announced that they will be rolling out SpokenRX in their mobile app. It will read aloud prescription labels. You may need to work with your local CVS pharmacy to get set up with this service. The CVS website states that this service will be available across the country by the end of 2021.
ScriptAbility is another service that began with Envision America. Your prescription labels can be produced in large print or braille with the same cooperating pharmacies described above. Speak to your pharmacist or customer service to request that you have the label of choice and all accompanying print information sent to you in either large print or braille. Keep this information nearby so that you can refer to it prior to taking your medication and for periodic review.
Pre-packaged prescriptions are another alternative for safe medication management.
ScriptAlign is a service ideal for the patient who is blind or has low vision. PMC Pharmacy has been working closely with many people in the visually impaired community, including many from PCB. It has developed a medication management program which provides daily pills in plastic tear-off packets. The dispenser box includes all medications for the entire month. It offers individual dispensing channels for each dose of the day, tactile bump dots, and braille printing, indicating the dosage time of the day. It has large, contrasting black and white print. To get started and talk to customer service, call 215-922-2502.
CVS can also pre-packed multiple medications taken at the same time into a pre-sorted packet labeled with your name, medications, and dose. These packets can be convenient for travel and daily use. CVS packs are called Simple Dose Packs. You can learn more by calling CVS pharmacists at 800-753-0596. Ask if large print or braille labeling are available.
Another option for pre-packed dose prescriptions is AccuPac. This service provides a monthly shipment and can also add vitamins and other supplements in dose packs as well. For more information and additional questions call 866-213-9821.
Whether you do it yourself or have someone help, sorting your medication into weekly or monthly pill organizers can be useful. You can purchase a pill box that locks each compartment and then requires you to push on a certain place to unlock individual compartments. If you are packing to go somewhere, or if your pillbox does not lock, tape each compartment shut to avoid losing your medication. If you are going to use these pill organizers, make sure you have the medications listed and instructions in an accessible format. Pill organizer boxes come in various sizes. Pharmacies and even dollar stores sell pill box organizers. Specialized pill organizers with braille and larger contrasting print can be purchased at Amazon, Maxi-Aids, or Independent Living Aids. If you have any questions or concerns about your medications, talk to the pharmacist or your doctor without delay.
PCB’s Vision Loss Resource Team invites you to a discussion call on Monday, October 5 at 7:30 p.m. We will provide a live demonstration of the audio options for managing your medications. Call 605-475-4715 with access code 815419#. For toll-free calling, dial 844-844-0414 with access code 815419#.