UK leading the march on prescription drug vending machine


You might have seen vending machines with cold drinks, water and candies in the malls, airport and many other places. Could you imagine vending machines filled with prescription drugs? Here is breakthrough advancement in the delivery of prescription drugs- UK is on trial for vending machines that will dispense prescription drug right from the vending machines and help in cutting the queuing time of the patients on pharmacy stores. Isn’t it interesting! Although the vending machine project looks exciting, but there are many challenges due to the healthcare cost and reimbursement policies. Let’s take a quick look at the exciting prescription drug vending machines.

 Prescription drug vending machine on trial
The UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has installed two types of prescription drug vending machines in two of its West Sussex stores to capture remote areas. One machine is currently being trialled in West Sussex store. The vending machines look like ATM-style robo-vendor.

How it works?
You will be excited to know how these will work. The basic plan is to drop your prescription at the machine, the pharmacy will collect the prescriptions and deliver the medications and then you can collect them.  The machine identifies users by their fingerprint or a unique number, demand PIN verification too, and then finally accept your prescription.

There is another much more useful vending machine which UK hospitals plan to trial this winter. The vending machine have a video link that allows patient to talk directly to pharmacist and based on the conversation and prescription, patient can sent a photograph of the prescription at the time of talk. After the pharmacist has checked the prescription, conducted a full patient medical history, seen ID and taken payment, they can authorise the machine to deliver the drugs from an internal stock.

Challenges with prescription vending machines
There is no doubt that prescription vending machine is a useful application for remote places...

and to provide coverage during evenings, nights and weekends. But there are certain healthcare laws that do not authorize these machines to put on the public places, however these can be permitted to use in hospitals and healthcare centers.

Reviews of Prescription drug vending machine
Roy Swift has been using the machine to pick up his repeat prescriptions and says: “The first time I used it, it was a little bit unfamiliar. But after I got used to it was very easy.”

According to statistics, repeat prescription accounts for 80% of prescription items. That means most of the times patients do not need to consult with pharmacists, since they are on their regular medications. PharmaTrust, the company supplying the machines, hopes that in the future they will be able to place them in high streets, shopping malls and rural locations.

The vending machines might be helpful for delivering the drugs in less time and reducing the queuing time of patients but currently there are many questions arise on the safety and long term use of these machines. People if adoptable to the machines might break the patient-pharmacist link, or what if somebody fraudulently picks up the medicine meant for other purposes. It seems like it will take long time to adopt the Prescription drug vending machine concept by the people. Well all the best!



8 Responses

  1. Canada says:

    A drug vending machine puts a physical barrier between the patient and pharmacist preventing the detection of physical cues such as alcohol on a patient’s breath which could lead to a dangerous drug interaction with medicines such as narcotics, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and warfarin to name a few. There is no evidence from properly constructed trials that these machines are any faster, cheaper, or more efficient than a traditional pharmacy.

    Visit the facebook group “Say No to drug vending machines and Yes to Pharmacists”
    for more information

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