Dentists required to translate directions for dispensed drugs

Patients may request that the directions on the label of dispensed medication be translated. A new law that went into effect on Jan. 1 now requires that dentists who dispense medication oblige such requests if translated directions are available. 

AB 1073 requires prescribers who dispense medication to provide translated directions for use when requested by the patient or patient's representative. "Dispensing" is not the same as "administering" medicine, and includes writing a prescription for medication. Dispensed medicine is provided to a patient for use outside of the prescriber's facility.

A dentist who prescribes medication must, upon request, provide translated directions for use on the prescription container, label or on a supplemental document. (An example of directions for use is "Take 1 pill at bedtime.") The English-language version of the directions for use must also appear on the container or label (not on a supplemental document). The state Board of Pharmacy has translated directions in Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese available online at pharmacy.ca.gov. A dispenser may provide his or her own translated directions or can use the translations made available by the Board of Pharmacy. The dispenser is not obligated to provide translated directions for use beyond the languages that the Board of Pharmacy has made available or beyond the directions that the board has made available in translated form.

State law requires prescribers who dispense medication to comply with the same rules as pharmacies, including the use of "patient-centered" prescription labels that contain specified information in sans serif 12-point type. The Board of Pharmacy provides examples of such labels on its website. Prescribers who dispense also must meet record keeping and patient notification requirements and use childproof containers.

Additional information can be found in articles on cda.org/practicesupport in the "Controlled Substances: Prescribing and Dispensing" and "Medication Prescribing and Dispensing Q-and-A" resources.

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