Some patients never receive information about dosage, potential side effects or other details. Rep. Golden wants to change that.

Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) introduced legislation this week to help improve patients’ access to information about their prescription drug medication. 

If passed, the Patients’ Right to Know Their Medication Act of 2019 would require manufacturers include printed inserts containing related information about the drug when they ship their products to pharmacies. 

Many pharmacies already print this information for patients, but federal law does not require them to do so. As a result, some patients are left without important drug safety and dosage information.

Nearly 46 percent of Americans used at least one prescription drug each month, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data from 2015-2016, the most recent years with complete information. 

Golden’s bill aims to protect these millions of Americans from adverse drug events by providing them with the facts they need to know about their prescriptions. 

Making it mandatory for pharmacists to provide patient medication information could also reduce costs associated with emergency room visits and hospital admissions related to adverse drug effects, according to the text of the bill. Lawmakers estimate they may be able to save $14.6 to $26.2 billion each year.

Information required in the inserts includes general instructions for use, warnings, potential side effects, measures to reduce side effects, information about when to contact a healthcare provider, and whether the medication interacts with any other drugs or food. 

Many patients currently obtain this information online, but for rural areas without access to broadband, that can be more difficult.

Golden said in a statement that he was particularly concerned about these types of obstacles for rural Mainers.

“Many Mainers don’t have access to online information about their prescription drugs,” Golden said. “If my constituents don’t have reliable broadband, or aren’t comfortable using a computer, they still need to have access to potentially life-saving facts about their medications.” 

Additionally, he added, mandating these paper inserts would also serve to protect hundreds of Maine jobs at the Twin Rivers Paper Company’s Madawaska Paper Mill, which manufactures prescription drug inserts.

“My bipartisan bill will make sure rural Mainers and seniors have the information they need to use their medication safely and will support hundreds of jobs in our state’s forest products industry,” Golden said.