Ontario eyes machines to dole out prescriptions
TheStar.com – Health/Healthzone.ca – Ontario eyes machines to dole out prescriptions
May 07, 2009. Tanya Talaga, Queen’s Park Bureau
Automated machines dispensing prescription drugs could appear in doctors’ clinics, retirement homes and in remote locations throughout Ontario if enough pharmacists buy into the new drug delivery system.
Legislation will be introduced next week allowing for prescriptions to be filled by a machine without the physical presence of a pharmacist, Health Minister David Caplan said yesterday.
Patients could use the machine to fill a prescription while speaking to a pharmacist through built-in video conferencing. Customers pay, the machine spits out the labelled medication and issues a receipt.
Alternatively, pharmacy technicians could dispense drugs under supervision of a pharmacist connected by video link.
Two drug-dispensing kiosks at Sunnybrook have operated under a pilot project since last June. The green and white machines resemble ATMs with a video screen. Patients feed their doctor-issued prescriptions into the machine and are linked to a pharmacist via video. So far, 800 patients have been served with no errors.
Pharmacists can lease the machines for about $2,000 a month and arrange for them to be strategically placed where they see fit – such as medical clinics, said Peter Suma, of Oakville’s PCA Services Inc., developer of the kiosks.
“We have close to 50 independent pharmacists who are in the sales process right now to lease the machines,” Suma said.
Narcotics will not be stocked in the machines but they will contain common drugs for chronic diseases such as diabetes, antibiotics and heart medication.