Regulations require that expired/discontinued medications be destroyed to prevent unauthorized distribution, diversion or unauthorized use. Typical drugs and their packaging include tablets, capsules, granules and liquids in conjunction with their associated pill bottles, caps, vials, ampules, blister packs, and unit dosing packages. No matter the particular type of drug and packaging utilized, the destruction of expired/discontinued drugs is subject to strict accountability. Normally accomplished by nurses, pharmacists or other authorized personnel, removing individual pills/capsules from multiple-dose blister packs before destroying is obviously time consuming and wasteful of their professional expertise. This drug shredding machine offers the industry an efficient, safe and highly accountable solution to this problem.
The success or failure of most innovations can be determined by their ability to solve common problems. While a drug vending machine could make the process of obtaining prescribed medication easier, I find the idea a bit far-fetched. As many pharmacies have begun to offer 24 hour service, as a means of differentiation within a competitive market, installing a vast network of drug vending machines appears superfluous. I could, however, see use for such systems in remote areas where pharmacies are few and far between.
You've got to imagine the Japanese are green with envy right now, as the BBC report not one, but two different drug vending machines are being tested out under Her Majesty's watchful eye. The first of these experiments is run by supermarket chain Sainsbury's, which has installed a pair of drug dispenser machines in its stores. They identify users by their fingerprint or a unique number, demand PIN verification too, and then finally accept your prescription. Then -- and this is the really silly part -- a pharmacist comes along, picks up your prescription, fills it out, and deposits it in the machine for you to pick up. So it's impersonal and unnecessarily convoluted, great.
The deployment of drug vending machines carries a number of risks. Questions arise over the potential for thieves to break into the machines. It opens up the possibility of people fraudulently picking up medications meant for others. Moving toward a drug vending machine model could pose health risks to consumers as well.