Vending Machine Dispenses Prescription Drugs

Tuesday, June 30th 2009, 5:28 pm
By: News On 6

By Craig Day, The News On 6

McALESTER, OK -- Some Oklahomans are now getting prescription medications from a vending machine. It's estimated that 20-30% of prescriptions that doctors write don't get filled because of inconvenience, but a doctor's office in McAlester says it's the first in Oklahoma to offer medication through a machine.

Eleven-month-old Ryan Skinner isn't feeling very good.  His mom, Karissa Kennedy, thinks he has an ear infection.

"Was just really, really fussy.  And, he wouldn't want you to hold him if you were sitting down, you would have to stand up with him and have to rock him, and he wouldn't eat," said Karissa Kennedy.

Karissa and others at the McAlester Urgent Care have a new option when getting their prescriptions filled and they can do it at the doctor's office.

"Some of the younger people who are more computer savvy don't mind using it.  But, some of our older people think oh this is OK, as long as you do it for me, so we come out and help them," said clinical director Jackie Turnbull.

The Instymed Machine is a fully automated ATM style machine that dispenses medications to patients within just a few minutes.  It's the first machine of its kind in Oklahoma

"This is where it actually puts the name on the medicine and then it is checked three times by the computer system that is in there," said Jackie Turnbull.

Here's how it works:  a medical provider enters a prescription electronically, a patient enters a special code on a touch screen, puts in their birthday and insurance information, pays for it and out come medications.

Karissa Kennedy likes the added convenience.

"You would have to lug him through Wal-Mart or wherever you go, and then you have to go back and wait in line, get your prescription again.  But, if you don't want to stay there, you have to put him back in the car, go home and wait, go back.  It's just a hassle," said Karissa Kennedy.

The machine contains about 50 different types of common medications.   Doctors say it's not designed to take the place of pharmacies, but in some cases and in some places in Oklahoma where there aren't drug stores or they don't stay open late, it's another option for patients. One they think will catch on statewide.

The maker of the Instymed Machine says there are several security safe guards in place including electronic monitoring to make it more theft proof.