Colorado could be latest state to allow automated pharmacy machines as bill passes House

Coloradans may soon be able to fill prescriptions via a video screen and a pre-loaded dispensing machine, thanks to a bipartisan bill that sailed through the House earlier this month.

Just don’t call them vending machines.

“We call them automated kiosks, rather than vending machines,” said Amy Gutierrez, the chief pharmacy officer for UCHealth. She was the president of California’s pharmacy board when that state signed off on the kiosks several years ago. “From a professional standpoint, they’re connected to a pharmacist.”

Pitched as a way to improve access to medications at odd hours and in underserved areas, HB23-1195 would allow these kiosks to open across Colorado. The machines, which look like refrigerators with a large screen and opening, would be pre-loaded with prescriptions, already counted and filled. A live human pharmacist, connected via video link, would consult with the patient and clear the way for the medicine to be dispensed. Current regulations around prescriptions — like double-counting of pills and ID checks for controlled substances — would still be in effect, said bill sponsor Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, a Commerce City Democrat.

It’s a forward-looking bill, she said, that both keeps Colorado in line with technological shifts while better serving patients. It can help rural communities that don’t have pharmacies, supporters say, or urban residents with busier schedules. A hospital could, for instance, open a kiosk in its emergency department, for patients who’re seen at late hours.

“If you work a regular schedule and then you have to come home and maybe feed the children, at the end of the day, you’ve missed the pharmacy hours,” Michaelson Jenet said. The bill passed the House with 58 aye votes and just four noes. It has Republican cosponsors and is set for its first Senate hearing in late March.

The kiosks would not all be …read more

Source:: The Denver Post

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