PHOENIX – More people in Arizona could soon be getting their prescriptions filled at vending machines. These machines are not at all like the ones you might buy snacks from in the break room, rather high-tech dispensaries manned by a virtual pharmacist.
“A-P-M because it’s like an ATM, except you get your medications. Automated Pharmacy Machine instead of Automated Teller Machine,” said Field Coordinator for MedAvail, Robin Mitchem.
MedAvail is planning to add somewhere around 20 of these APMs to Arizona by the end of 2018. These types of machines have already been used by the Health Services Department at Arizona State University for years, but this is bringing quicker pharmacy wait times to everyone.
The obvious concern here is the safety of this medication and the possibility of it getting in the wrong hands. Mitchem said this is not more of an issue than at a normal pharmacy.
"Their license is on the line. At the end of the day, when they prescribe something and sign off on it, they are legally accountable for whatever went down during that transaction,” Mitchem said
Currently, kiosks like the ones produced by MedAvail are not legally able to house and dispense controlled substances or narcotics, but the company is “currently working with the appropriate regulatory organizations to be able to do so in the future,” according to its website.
The idea of somebody breaking into the machine and stealing medication is also rather far-fetched.
“We have it reinforced. There is a steel plate against it, so you can’t get in literally without heavy machinery,” Mitchem says.