Electronic pharmacies get national push

Drug kiosks let consumers scan prescriptions and consult with pharmacists without entering an actual pharmacy.

Ever hear of an ATM for prescription drugs?

Probably not, but New York pharmacy chain Duane Reade is working to change that. The company has introduced 60 prescription drug kiosks in hospitals and offices across New York over the past year or so, allowing patients to order medicines and talk to pharmacists without visiting an actual pharmacy.

kiosk
Credit: Duane Reade
Duane Reade's prescription
drug kiosks let consumers scan
prescriptions and consult with
pharmacists.

In a quest to introduce the patented technology nationally, the company inked its first licensing agreement for the kiosks with a Connecticut chain called DrugMax in a deal announced Thursday. DrugMax, which owns nearly 80 pharmacies across the Northeastern United States, plans to set up five kiosks this year for its customers, mainly in Connecticut hospitals and medical centers.

The kiosks feature document scanning and video conference technology that let customers scan in paper prescriptions and consult with a pharmacist live. Customers can pick up their medicine later at the nearest pharmacy or have it shipped to them at home. The kiosks send scanned prescriptions to special service centers that direct drug orders to local pharmacists.

By placing the kiosks in hospitals, medical centers, and offices of major companies, Duane Reade is hoping to appeal to consumers who feel inconvenienced by multiple trips to the pharmacy, much in the way automatic teller machines have eliminated trips to banks for many consumers, said David Siegel, general manager of Duane Reade's kiosk business.

"The whole idea is when you leave an emergency room, you're sick," Siegel said. "To go to a pharmacy and wait for a prescription is absurd."

Florida, Maryland and Minnesota may be the next states to get the kiosks. Duane Reade is now negotiating licensing deals with regional pharmacies in those states, Siegel said.

For now, though, the kiosks can be found only in locations around the New York metropolitan area, including Mount Sinai Hospital, Lutheran Medical Center, Lenox Hill Hospital, and the offices of Citigroup, Viacom, Time, and the Federal Reserve Bank.

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