From the Colorado Springs Gazette:
A newcomer to the world of vending machines has joined the likes of sodas, candy, DVDs and toiletries — drugs.
Integrity Urgent Care … in northeast Colorado Springs recently installed a machine stocked with dozens of common prescriptions — antibiotics, painkillers, asthma inhalers and oral steroids. It dispenses patients’ medications like a bag of potato chips or package of Skittles, and it is the first such machine in Colorado, according to the Minneapolis-based manufacturer, InstyMeds.
The idea is to save patients the hassle of going to a pharmacy, having to wait in line for medicine, or going on a late-night search to have a prescription filled.
“It’s a lot like ordering a candy bar out of a candy machine,” said 32-year-old April Salladay, who was treated at the clinic Monday for a sinus infection and laryngitis. She paid $32 for the antibiotic Augmentin, which had been prescribed just minutes earlier. She said she entered a number, answered a couple of questions on a touch screen, and two minutes later retrieved her medicine from a bin. The machine sits inside the clinic between the nurses’ station and the reception desk.
Currently the machine is not set up to process insurance claims — that likely will change in the next six months, and it has so far proved most popular with self-payers, said Lori Japp, a physician assistant and co-manager at Integrity. But some insured patients, including Salladay, are willing to pay for the drug outright to avoid the extra errand. Salladay’s $32 was likely more than her co-pay, she said, but the difference was worth avoiding a stop by the pharmacy when she was feeling ill.
About this Angie’s List Expert: Cary Byrd is the president and founder of eDrugSearch.com. Based in San Antonio, eDrugSearch.com is a free cost comparison engine that helps consumers get safe access to affordable medications and advocates licensed online pharmacies as a widely accepted alternative.