Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Automating your prescription

Manitoba machine a pharmacist fill-in

  • Print

A new player in the pharmacy industry is hoping to level the playing field for mom-and-pop shops in their never-ending battle with their big-box competitors.

Carman-based Providen Pharmacy Logistics has created a conveyor-belt system that fills recurring prescriptions automatically - and much more - quicker than can be done by hand behind the pharmacy counter.

David Huston, president of Providen, said its opti-fill II technology also does strip packaging as part of its back-end fulfilment services to make prescription sourcing more efficient. Nearly three-quarters of all prescriptions are "maintenance" or "chronic care" medications, he said.

"Our role is to proactively call the patient and say, 'Do you need your medication refilled and it's due in five days? That's no problem, we'll get that ready and it will be available at your pharmacy tomorrow.' It takes the burden off the community pharmacy to prepare it and have it ready for patient pickup," he said.

Providen's services could come in handy if the profitability of pharmacies, particularly smaller and rural outlets, continues to fall.

"I believe their company offers some solutions," said Darren Murphy, owner of Broadway Pharmacy. "They should allow for a cheaper way of filling and processing prescriptions. Margins are shrinking due to price cuts. We need to look at ways of reducing the dispensing process."

Murphy said if Broadway wanted to provide strip-packing services -- which is used in providing pharmaceuticals to personal care homes and jails -- it would have to spend $200,000 to $300,000 on machinery. But if Providen did it for him, he could email the files over and just wait for the shipment.

"It would save me having to go buy that automation and I can offer a full range of services," he said.

Pharmacists are increasingly moving toward providing consulting services and medication review, he said. If they start getting paid by the government for such work -- as has been happening in Ontario recently -- pharmacies might have to start up a separate business to oversee it, Murphy said.

"Having the filling done by a company like Providen would take the dispensing off of our hands," he said.

Much of the industry's price pressure is coming from in-store pharmacies at Costco and Walmart. Smaller players simply can't afford to match prices with the giants on anything more than a short-term basis.

The industry has been in consolidation mode for many years as bigger players such as Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmasave have either bought out smaller players or forced them out of their business with their big-box stores. Pharmacies' profitability is also threatened by dwindling rebates from generic drug manufacturers, he said.

Communities where pharmacists have already closed down could be served by a Providen pharmacy technician, Huston said.

"It's like a distance-care program. The product could go to a remote dispensing location; the technician would enter the prescription and get it checked by a central pharmacist," he said.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 6, 2012 B4

History

Updated on Friday, July 6, 2012 at 12:59 PM CDT: Corrects typo.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Glenn January won't blame offensive line for first loss

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • MIKE.DEAL@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 100615 - Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 The Mane Attraction - Lions are back at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. Xerxes a 3-year-old male African Lion rests in the shade of a tree in his new enclosure at the old Giant Panda building.  MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • A female Mallard duck leads a group of duckings on a morning swim through the reflections in the Assiniboine River at The Forks Monday.     (WAYNE GLOWACKI/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) Winnipeg Free Press  June 18 2012

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Will higher pork prices change your grocery-shopping habits?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google