October 5, 2016, Vancouver, B.C. — Rob Sleath, on behalf of people who are blind or partially sighted and Access for Sight-Impaired Consumers (ASIC), and Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. have agreed to settle a human rights complaint that will see Shoppers Drug Marts in British Columbia offer prescription medication information in an audio format throughout the province.
“This is definitely a step in the right direction for people who are blind or partially sighted in terms of having independent access to essential prescription information,” said Rob Sleath. “Since my kidney transplant, I have been on a regimen of many different medications. Having prescription medications with attached audio labels means I can independently, confidently and safely manage my medications without fear of consuming any one of them incorrectly. ASIC pursued its complaint against Shoppers Drug Mart to eliminate the barriers faced by tens of thousands of people like me in B.C. who live with sight loss.”
As of September 1 of this year, following a human rights complaint filed on June 2, 2014, Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. has agreed that:
- Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacies in B.C. will make available to its customers an auditory labelling service for prescription medication information at no cost to the consumer. Auditory prescription labels will contain the same information as on the printed prescription label – patient’s name, name and strength of medication, dosage instructions, quantity, prescription date, refills remaining (if any), prescriber, name and telephone number of dispensing pharmacy, prescription number, and warnings.
- Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacies will ensure that, absent of exceptional circumstances, the time from when a prescription request is made to a pharmacy to the time the medication is available for pick-up is no longer than 48 hours during business days (excluding statutory holidays and weekends). For prescription renewals, the medication should be available for pick up at the same time as the prescription would be available if prepared with a print label.
- Where a patient cannot arrange to pick up the prescription within a reasonable time after it is ready, the Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacy may deliver the medication to the patient free of charge where the delivery is within the pharmacy’s regular service territory.
“While this is a positive outcome for people who are blind or partially sighted in B.C., it should be noted that delivery within 48 hours is not equal to the service provided to consumers who are sighted,” said Sleath. “Furthermore, we are disappointed that Shoppers Drug Mart has chosen only to offer audio labels, and not the broader range of accessible formats including large print, braille or QR codes that can be accessed with a smart phone.”
Sleath and ASIC will partner with other blindness-related organizations, including CNIB, to encourage Shoppers Drug Mart, and all other pharmacies offering this service, to close this discriminatory delivery gap.
“This is a victory for people with sight loss, and their efforts to live fully independent lives,” said Diane Bergeron, CNIB’s Executive Director, Strategic Relations and Engagement. “But it is only the first step towards creating an inclusive system that incorporates the needs of persons with disabilities. This win in B.C. is just the beginning. ASIC will be partnering with CNIB, where together, we fully intend to fight to make prescription labels a mandatory component in all pharmacies across Canada.”
Audio labels are encoded radio-frequency identification (RFID) labels that are affixed to the bottom of a prescription bottle or container. The information on these labels can be accessed through a ScripTalk Reader, which is supplied and delivered by En-Vision America at no cost to the consumer through any Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacy in BC. Accessible prescription medication information using audio labels are also available through all Save-On Foods, PriceSmart, Urban Fare, Bulkley Valley Wholesale, Overwaitea, London Drugs and Peoples Drug Mart locations.
About Access for Sight-Impaired Consumers
Access for Sight-Impaired Consumers (ASIC) is an independent, consumer-driven advocacy coalition that addresses issues which affect British Columbian residents who are blind, deafblind or partially sighted. Many of our affiliate organizations are associated with widely-recognized provincial or national bodies serving the nearly three-quarter million BC residents who are affected by one of the four most common eye diseases which could potentially lead to sight loss. ASIC’s primary advocacy action plan focuses upon the 64,500 British Columbians who are currently blind, deafblind or partially sighted.
Our mission is to collaborate with our affiliate organizations and community partners to increase awareness and understanding of issues related to sight loss. Our aim is to build inclusive communities for people with sight loss by promoting equitable access and by supporting independent living.