California Senate Bill 472, enacted in 2007, requires the California Board of Pharmacy to develop and implement regulations requiring all pharmacists in California to use “patient-centered prescription drug labels.” Since adherence to medication instructions (dosage, frequency, etc.) is often the source of miscommunication and misunderstanding, this was an important state legislative attempt to support clearer and more effective communications with patients.
Unfortunately, the California Board of Pharmacy has issued implementing regulations that are far weaker than expected. For example, the regulations only require a 10-point font while most literacy experts recommend at least a 12-point font for readability. The Pharmacy Board also is only recommending rather than requiring use of standardized patient instructions and the use of a Uniform Medication Schedule (take medication at breakfast, lunch, dinner and/or bedtime rather than “x” times a day) and is only making translations of those standardized patient instructions available on its website (and not for ten months after the regulations become effective).