Mail-Order Pharmacy May Dominate Drugstores
Big companies think automated mail-order pharmacies like Medco help cure rising drug costs. That remedy won't make retail giants like Walgreens and CVS feel better.The sign on the door of Medcos Willingboro, N.J., pharmacy looks just like a thousand similar signs posted at neighborhood pharmacies across the country. "Pharmacist in charge, Barry M. Cesanek," it reads. But thats where the familiarity ends. Inside this "pharmacy," vacuum tubes pop the exact quantity of pills required for an individuals prescription into a procession of plastic trays filled with bottles. Machines screw the caps onto their bottles with a force just right for handling by an arthritic senior. Robotic arms zero in on the correct bottle for a patient from thousands of trays and drop it into a waiting, addressed envelope. Conveyer belts carry the envelopes to mail-sorting stations, where they slide off sloped trays into large bags, ready to be taken to the nearby postal depot.
Neither a pill nor a bottle ever is touched by a human hand.