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If you speak only Spanish, best of luck with that prescription drug

May 30, 2009 |  7:13 am

Pills Getting a prescription filled doesn't do much good if you don't know how or when to take the drug.

A new study from Northwestern University suggests how un-illuminating many pharmacy-counter exchanges might be for those who speak only Spanish. Researchers there surveyed pharmacies in Texas and Colorado (which have had, for some time, large Latino populations) and Georgia and North Carolina (which have burgeoning Latino populations).

Of 764 pharmacies, only 43.3% could solidly offer instructions in Spanish, 21.7% offered some translation services and 34.9% offered no such  services.

The Northwestern news release. The journal abstract, in the June issue of the journal Medical Care. Y Manual Merck de información médica para el hogar.

The abstract concludes: "The majority of pharmacies surveyed offered limited or no translation services. Lack of translation services is not isolated to rural areas or locations with a marginal Latino population. Spanish-speaking patients encounter barriers to acquiring instructions that support the safe and effective use of medications."

— Tami Dennis

Photo: Taking prescription drugs, such as the antidepressant Effexor, requires guidance.

Credit: Getty Images