Rx Vending Machines Make a New England Beachhead

Ken Rankin
Published Online: Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Pharmacists in Massachusetts may soon be facing competition from a new and controversial source: a proposed new pilot program designed to slash the state's drug costs by allowing community health care centers to dispense prescription drugs through remote-controlled vending machines.

By eliminating the need for pharmacists at remote clinics and homeless shelters across the state, advocates of the plan contend the machines will make drugs more accessible to low-income people while lowering the cost of health care throughout Massachusetts.

Pharmacists in the state consider the Rx vending machine to be an insult to the profession and a potential danger to patients who would be deprived of face-to-face contact with pharmacists.

The Massachusetts pilot project is patterned after a similar program in neighboring Rhode Island where several Rx vending machines are already in operation at satellite clinics and shelters

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