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New York State Pharmacy Translation Requirements Under Attorney General’s Agreement

A few States, as well as New York City, have passed comprehensive pharmacy language access laws to ensure that community pharmacies provide free translation and interpreting services to their customers with limited English proficiency (LEP).

Below we describe informally and briefly the gist of some specific requirements enacted in New York State under the Attorney General’s Agreement. (See legal disclaimer, below).

Status of NY State Attorney General’s Agreement Regulations

On April 21, 2009, the New York State Attorney General signed agreements with seven major pharmacy chains. Under the terms of the agreement the pharmacies are required to provide limited English proficiency customers with interpreting and translation services in all of their New York stores.

Pharmacies Directly Affected:

The agreements were signed with 7 of the largest pharmacy chains in New York State: A&P, Costco, CVS, Duane Reade, Rite-Aid, Target and Walmart.

Which Individuals are Considered to be Limited English Proficiency (LEP):

The threshold defined by the Attorney General for the purpose of this agreement states: An individual is considered to be LEP if his or her knowledge of English is not sufficient for communicating about the safe and effective administration of prescription medications.
(Written) Translation Requirements for Pharmacies

Languages Requiring Translation:

For written translation, the New York State Attorney General’s agreement covers six languages:

  • Chinese
  • French
  • Italian
  • Polish
  • Russian, and
  • Spanish

Information Required to be Translated

Pharmacies must provide their LEP customers whose primary language is one of the 6 languages specified above the translated versions of all prescription drug:

  • Directions for Use of the Drug
  • Warning Labels with information regarding the safe and effective use of the drug, including common side effects or adverse effects and contraindications
  • Notices of Privacy Practices
  • Written offers of counseling

If an LEP customer does not speak one of the 11 primary languages for the pharmacy, the above-specified information does not need to be provided to the person in written form in their language. However, that information must be relayed to the person orally (e.g., via telephone interpreting) in their primary language.

(Oral) Interpreting Requirements for Pharmacies

Languages Requiring Interpreting:

Interpreting is to be available in all languages reasonably expected to be requested by each chain’s customers.

Which (Oral) Interpreting Services are Required for LEP Individuals

Pharmacy staff who are not able to communicate adequately with an LEP individual in their primary language must utilize, free of charge to the customer, an interpreter, either in-store or over the phone, when:

  • Soliciting information maintain a patient medication profile
  • Offering prescription drug counseling
  • Providing prescription drug counseling where such “counseling is not refused by the Customer”
  • Accepting prescription refill requests, either in-person or over the telephone

Who Qualifies as a Competent Interpreter Under the Law:

If communication with an LEP individual is done directly by a pharmacist or using another pharmacy staff member as an interpreter, the pharmacy person must be certified as competent to communicate prescription drug information effectively in the specific language before that person can be relied upon for communication with the LEP customers. The testing and certification must be performed by an outside vendor on behalf of the pharmacy.

Implementation Schedule:

The agreements with the individual chains went into effect between November 12, 2008 and April 21, 2009. Each separate agreement has a phased implementation schedule, but in all cases the complete implementation of all the agreement provisions had to take place no later than May 15, 2010.

Notification Requirement

Each affected pharmacy must inform customers of their right to free language services. Multilingual posters announcing this requirement must be conspicuously present in each pharmacy location and on the chains’ websites.

Text of the Agreement

Click here to download the full text of a sample agreement signed by the Attorney General with the pharmacy chains.

For More Information

To get more information about our pharmacy language services, call 617-621-0945 or email at info@RxTran.com to find out how RxTran can help you provide a more comprehensive set of services to your pharmacy clients.

Legal Disclaimer

On this site we informally and briefly describe the gist of some laws and regulations enacted or being considered in various jurisdictions. These descriptions are not intended to be a complete or exhaustive presentation of the laws and regulations. They are not intended, nor should be relied upon, as a source of legal advice. Please consult qualified counsel for any questions regarding interpretation of any laws and regulations mentioned on this site.

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