ATM-Like Machines Dispense Refills

Posted on June 30, 2005

New ATM-like devices, the ScriptCenter (picture on right) and the Automated Pharmacy Machine from Distributed Delivery Networks Corp. (DDN), can dispense perscription refills to patients. The Wall Street Journal reports that the devices have already been cleared for use in California and Virginia. There is concern among pharmacists that patients might get the wrong drug by mistake or neglect to find a pharmacist and ask important questions about dosage and drug interactions.

The ATM-like machines are raising questions among pharmacists and state regulators who oversee prescription-drug dispensing. One worry is that patients might end up with the wrong drug. Some pharmacists also don't like the machines because they cut out traditional face-to-face consultations with patients. The concern is that patients might be discouraged from asking pharmacists about such things as whether alcohol should be avoided with a medicine, or possible drug interactions.

"There's lots of leeriness on the part of regulators and the fear that something like this could replace the pharmacist," says Mary Ann Wagner, vice president of pharmacy regulatory affairs for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, a trade group in Alexandria, Va.

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