The UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s is running a trial with two different drug vending machines in two of its West Sussex stores. Basically you can drop your prescription at the machine, the pharmacy will collect the prescriptions and deliver the medications which you can later pick up. As the machines are placed in stores with an in-store pharmacy service, the only benefit seems to be the lack of face-to-face contact (for those people who consider that a benefit). The trial will run for a year after which it will be decided whether they will be rolled-out across all of England.
Some UK hospitals plan to trial a more useful drug vending machines this winter, which have a video-link and can dispense medication directly. Patient and pharmacists can talk to each other and a photograph of the prescription is sent over at the same time. The pharmacist can then authorize the machine to deliver drugs from an internal stock. This might prove a useful application for remote places and to provide coverage during evenings, nights and weekends. Although law currently only permits use of these machines in hospitals and healthcare centers, PharmaTrust, the company supplying the machines, hopes that in the future they will be able to place them in High Streets, shopping malls and rural locations.