Vending machines for prescription drugs on trial
Published: 16th Aug 2010 08:28:06
We are used to using vending machines for crisps, drinks and toiletries - but are we ready for them to give us our prescription drugs?
Each year, 886 million prescription drug items are dispensed in England and it is hoped this new technology can streamline the process.
There are questions though over if it is safe to break the patient-pharmacist link, if drugs stored in the machine will be safe from thieves and if people could fraudulently pick up the medicine meant for others.
Two different types of machines are being trialled with the aim of national roll-out across England.
The supermarket chain Sainsbury's is currently piloting a scheme in two of its West Sussex stores. After a year it will look at customer feedback, before deciding whether to extend to other stores. It is hoped the machines will speed up customer queuing times.
How it works
Customers will use a unique ID or fingerprint as well as a Pin when putting in their prescription and again when they come back to collect the medicine, ensuring the drugs go to the correct person. While the patient waits, the pharmacist will prepare and place the drugs into the machine for collection.
Each machine can hold up to 450 packs of medicines.
Customer Roy Swift says: "I use the machine for my monthly prescriptions. The first time I used it, it was a little bit unfamiliar. But after I got used to it was very easy."
While the machines will be available only alongside the in-store pharmacy service, it is possible to conduct the whole process without face-to-face contact.
Repeat prescribing accounts for 80% of prescription items - the other items are treatments the patient has not used before and may be unfamiliar with.
A good idea?
Dr Buckman: supermarket drug vending machines 'can't be safe'
Some GPS are concerned by this.
"Giving out medicine is not just box-shifting. The patient doesn't know if there are any questions that need to be asked or answered. The pharmacist hasn't met them so doesn't know either," says Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the British Medical Association GP Committee.
"The pharmacist will have the professional training to be able to spot when something is important. It can't be safe to hand over the prescription when you haven't met a pharmacist who knows whether that prescription is safe in combination with other things you are eating or other medicines you taking. A machine can't tell you this."
The National Pharmacy Association says: "Vending machines may complement but are no substitute for a full pharmacy service. The dispensing of medicines is a core service, but now only one of many services you find in pharmacies which include health checks, medical reviews and lifestyle interventions. For these, face-to-face advice and counselling is essential."
Another type of automated drug dispensing machine will be trialled this winter in hospitals. It aims to help patients get their medicine out of hours or in remote areas.
This one has a videolink so the pharmacist can see and talk to the patient and vice-versa. The pharmacist can check the prescription as cameras in the machine photograph it and the image appears on the pharmacist's computer.
After the pharmacist has checked the prescription, conducted a full patient medical history, seen some ID and taken any payment, he or she can authorise the machine to dispense the drugs, which are stored inside.
Peter Ellis, executive managing director of PharmaTrust, the company supplying the machines in the UK, says: "It is made from plate steel, it weighs 2,000kg, it is protected by cameras both inside and outside. It would be hard to force any kind of entry."
Currently remote medicine dispensing is only legal in hospitals and healthcare centres. For any other location, a registered pharmacist needs to be physically present. However, the company hopes these rules may be relaxed in the future allowing them to be installed in High Streets, shopping malls and rural locations.
Individual hospitals will decide it they want to take part in the trial. City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust is one of those involved.
Chief pharmacist David Miller says: "The technology provides the ability to maintain an off-site pharmacy service from the main dispensary, releasing the dispensary staff at quiet times in the morning and afternoon.
"There are many occasions where a full pharmacy service is currently uneconomic. This machine extends the reach of the pharmacist and provides increased access for the patient to a safe medication supply."
He says this new technology does not mean the end of the pharmacist. "In Sunderland, pharmacists spend over 90% of their time on direct patient care, rather then dispensary work, so it is a small but vital part of their role. This technology is an enabler, not a replacement for pharmacists.
"The measures of success will be, does it improve patient care, the ability to deliver medicines safely, effectively and economically and also whether hospital pharmacists welcome it as a friend rather than an imposition."
At 12:58:39 in EnglandA poem about the killing of PC Keith Blakelock during riots in north London was written by the man accused of his murder, a court has heard.
At 12:58:21 in SportKent have announced a pre-interest and pre-tax profit of £156,778 for the financial year to November 2013.
At 12:56:04 in ScotlandA hamster has been found abandoned inside a plastic play tube in Edinburgh.
At 12:55:09 in BusinessThe sometimes fraught relationship between leaseholders and their freeholders is going to be investigated by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
At 12:54:04 in HeadlinesIndia's Supreme Court has ordered the continuing detention of businessman Subrata Roy and asked his firm to come up with a plan to repay its investors.
At 12:53:21 in SportCrystal Palace winger Jason Puncheon has been fined £15,000 by the Football Association and warned about his future conduct for Twitter comments he made in relation to former boss Neil Warnock.
At 12:52:43 in HeadlinesA second witness at the murder trial of South African athlete Oscar Pistorius has told a court in the capital Pretoria she was awoken by the sounds of a fight early on 14 February 2013.
At 12:42:01 in PoliticsThere is a risk that "deliberate provocation" could give rise to a dangerous incident in Ukraine, Foreign Secretary William Hague has warned.
At 12:41:48 in EnglandA residential treatment programme for addicts which closed in Yeovil is to reopen after the charity running it merged with another organisation.
At 12:40:03 in ScotlandPolice Scotland has exceeded its target to recruit 1,000 additional officers.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2010. Vending machines for prescription drugs on trial [Online] (Updated 16th Aug 2010)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/82075/Vending-machines-for-prescription-drugs-on-trial [Accessed 9th Mar 2014]
News In Other Categories
Fawlty Towers star Prunella Scales has "a sort of mild Alzheimer's", her husband Tim West has revealed in the Radio Times.
Two hospitals missed opportunities to take action against a consultant breast surgeon who was performing unnecessary or incomplete operations, a review has found.
With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
The law needs to be changed to stop ticket touts overcharging fans ahead of the Rugby World Cup, an MP has said.
A hamster has been found abandoned inside a plastic play tube in Edinburgh.
Apple has unveiled its new iPhone technology for cars at the Geneva Motor Show.