How Specialty Pharmacies Cater to the Blind and Those With Impaired Vision

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In an Op-Ed last fall, Penny Rosenblum, the former director of research at the foundation, described one such obstacle: “‘Drive-thru’ and ‘curbside pickup’ discriminate,” she wrote. “This doesn’t work for those with vision loss. Communities must have alternative plans, be it porch delivery, walk-up or bike-thru.”

DeAnna Quietwater Noriega, a writer and a full-time caregiver for her husband, Curtis, gets the couple’s prescriptions and any other pharmacy items they need hand-delivered to their front door by D&H Drugstore in Columbia, Mo. Ms. Noriega, 73, was born with glaucoma and has been blind since she was 8.

“They know us by name and always treat us with respect and friendliness,” she said of her independent pharmacy. “They go the extra mile to be sure our medications are compatible with each other and argue on our behalf if our insurance company balks at the drug our doctors prescribed.”

Ms. Noriega’s medications come with ScripTalk labels that she reads with her iPhone. Previously, she filled their prescriptions through Walmart. But the problem, she said, was the couple was never told when the refills had run out until they showed up at the pharmacy. “We were expected to read the very small print on the label,” she said.

Many independent pharmacies offer personalized services including home delivery to meet customers’ needs. Major drugstore chains also offer home delivery in many places. Over the last several years, chain pharmacies have become somewhat more accessible, in part, because of lawsuits and negotiations led by advocacy organizations like the American Council of the Blind.

But finding a pharmacy with a full menu of accessible solutions under one roof has been elusive. Last summer, CVS Health, which offers ScripTalk via its website, added a feature to its app called SpokenRx that can scan labels and read the prescription aloud, which the company said is now available in 10,000 stores.

Walmart also provides ScripTalk in nearly 1,800 Walmart and Sam’s Clubs locations. And there have been other agreements reached with Walgreens to offer its Talking Pill Reminder free of charge. Eric Bridges, executive director of the council, said they have yet to engage with Amazon Pharmacy.