New Bill Requires Larger Prescription Labels

Ellen Corbett

SAN FRANCISCO—The Assembly Business, Professions and Consumer Protection Committee approved a bill Tuesday, August 13, that would require pharmacists to print prescription drug labels in at least 12-point font as well as list specific items.

SB 205, which was authored by Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett (D-EastBay), was introduced on February 8 and has since undergone several amendments.

“SB 205 is a patient-centered bill that helps keep patients safe and prevents needless medication use errors by simply requiring pharmacists to print specific items on prescription labels in at least 12-point font,” Corbett said. “Patients should not have to struggle to read their prescriptions since that critical information can clearly protect patients and save their lives.”

Some of the items that Corbett suggested should be printed larger on the labels include the following: patient’s name, drug’s name and dose, directions for use and the condition for which the drug was prescribed.

In 2007, Corbett’s SB 472 was signed by the governor and required the Board of Pharmacy to standardize the prescription drug label and make it more patient-centered. The Board then conducted a survey in 2009 and found that 60 percent of those that responded believed a larger or bolder print would make the labels easier to read.

According to the California Department on Aging, California’s population over 60 years old will increase by more than 110 percent from 1990 to 2020.

Corbett’s bill is supported by the following organizations: the California State Retirees/Chapter 1, California Alliance for Retired Americans, California Commission on Aging, California Pan-Ethnic Network, Paramedics Plus, Vision y Compromiso and Pharmacists Planning Services, Inc.

By Melissa Simon