Automated Pharmacy

This article/press release is somewhat positively biased, but it does shed some light on Medco’s plan for pharmacy. It is interesting to consider the prospect of automated dispensing and how it will affect the jobs of pharmacists. I was asked in my interview for the University of Pittsburgh, “If I were to tell you that in ten years dispensing was completely eliminated by the use of machines, would you still want to be a pharmacist, what would you expect to do, and why?”


INDIANAPOLIS, Nov. 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels joined executives from Medco Health Solutions, Inc. today to announce the company’s plans to build the world’s largest and most advanced automated pharmacy in Central Indiana, filling a growing nationwide demand for lower-cost medicines. The new 318,000-square-foot pharmacy, slated to open early in 2009, will cover an area equivalent to six and a half football fields — bringing approximately 1,300 jobs to the state by its anticipated peak operation in 2012.

“Medco has pioneered the use of computers, robotics, optical scanners and other technologies to create drug dispensing systems which are virtually error-free,” said Kenneth O. Klepper, Medco President and Chief Operating Officer.

The state’s business-friendly environment, modern transportation infrastructure, skilled labor pool and proximity to several schools of pharmacy including Butler University and Purdue University were other notable factors in the site selection process. Medco intends to provide competitive salaries and a comprehensive employee benefit package for a wide range of positions, including electrical and mechanical technicians, managers, warehouse specialists and more than 100 pharmacists, among other types of jobs. Hiring is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2008, with the majority of the hiring expected in 2010 and 2011.

Medco is leading the charge on transforming pharmacy care from a “generalist” practice to a “specialist” practice. “With advancements in science and technology blazing a path of personalized medicine, we can no longer take a shot gun approach to pharmacy,” Klepper said. “To that end, Medco has created condition-specific resource centers staffed with hundreds of pharmacists who receive specialized training in specific chronic conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and asthma. This focus on one chronic disease state enables these specialist pharmacists to better help patients optimize their health.”

Coupled with its unparalleled dispensing pharmacy practice, Medco has created an industry leading end-to-end specialized pharmacy practice model.

Medco’s mail-order pharmacy business received an additional boost when the Federal Employee Program(TM) (FEP) awarded a contract for its mail-service and specialty prescription drug program for 4 million federal employees, retirees and their families, effective Jan. 1, 2008.

Medco’s two existing automated dispensing pharmacies in Willingboro, N.J. and Las Vegas dispensed 90 percent of the company’s mail-order prescriptions in 2006. Medco’s automated pharmacies currently have the capacity to fill more than 2 million prescriptions per week. Medco opened the world’s first fully automated pharmacy in Las Vegas in October 1996 and the world’s then- largest pharmacy at 280,000 square feet in Willingboro in 2001.

Full Article

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