Plus, the latest pharmacy and healthcare news to know this week
Automated pharmacy kiosks could soon be coming to Florida if a new bill is approved. On Wednesday, a House healthcare panel unanimously approved the HB 59 bill, which is currently in review in the State House. The bill would allow community pharmacists to offer patients access to prescription drugs through automated systems.
Why It Matters
Florida law currently allows the use of automated pharmacy systems on hospital campuses, but HB 59 would extend this authority to community pharmacies. The kiosks would have video conferencing and teleconferencing capabilities through which patients could speak with pharmacists about their prescriptions. However, the bill doesn’t specify whether patients will be charged a convenience fee for using the kiosks.
Reactions have been mixed so far. On one hand, automated pharmacy systems offer the benefit of convenience. Patients would save time that would have been spent on trips back to the hospital or pharmacy to pick up their prescriptions. Even when pharmacies are closed, patients would still have access to their medications without needing to leave their cars. On the other hand, critics such as Florida Pharmacy Association CEO Michael Jackson have expressed concerns about the lack of restrictions on the location of the machines. Kiosks could end up dozens of miles away from the pharmacy, which may be an issue if a patient has a problem. He also raised concerns about the safety of pharmacists and their staff traveling miles with prescription drugs to restock the machines.
This past Wednesday, the healthcare committee agreed to amend the bill to ensure that controlled substances would not be obtained through the kiosks. A Senate companion bill (SB 708) has been filed for the upcoming legislative session in January to address some of the concerns that have been raised.
Other Healthcare News to Know
- KKR & Co. has formally reached out to Walgreens Boots on a record buyout deal. Bloomberg.
- UPS drones made their first home prescription delivery for CVS earlier this week. Reuters.
- Google is gathering health records on millions of Americans with its new “Project Nightingale.” The Wall Street Journal.
- On Monday, Merck & Co. received approval in Europe for its Ebola vaccine. Scientific American.
- An estimated 35,000 Americans die of antibiotic-resistant infections each year, according to a new CDC report. Stat.