The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

February 24, 2014

Wagner Pharmacy adapts to new technology

By Amy Kent
Herald Staff Writer

CLINTON — Looking ahead to the future, Wagner Pharmacy has taken on an unorthodox method to distributing pharmaceuticals, the first of its kind in the state of Iowa, and one of few in the country.

Adapting to the times is something Wagner Pharmacy owner and president Tim Wright has prided himself and his company on, and by becoming one of the first retail pharmacies to offer an automated dispensing system, he is feeling confident with the direction Wagner Pharmacy is taking.

“This is really a step toward innovating, and being able to manage future changes in the industry,” Wright said. “So, I think eventually most pharmacies will have to invest in this or something like this. It’s functional on a number of levels and it’s our job to stay current and innovative.”

The automated distributing system, or the Parata PASS 208, is a state-of-the-art robotic machine that packages medication much differently than the standard, hand-counting method used by pharmacists nationwide. The technology instead puts the burden of the responsibilities on the robotic system, reducing the chance for human error and making the packaging much easier for patients to understand.

Instead of patients receiving the common orange bottle, filled with their month’s supply of medication, the Parata PASS 208 individually packages each dosage in an easy-to-read, easy-to-use cellophane wrapping.

Those individual medication packages, labeled with the drug information, description and dosage, is then distributed to patients in a box known as the MedPack that allows the patients to have each individual medication dose already separated for them.

According to Wright, this allows more freedom for patients who have difficulty with separating their medications, trouble remembering to take their medications and prevents them from accidentally taking additional dosages.

“We saw so many clients that were just getting overwhelmed, they’ve got tons and tons of pill bottles all over the place. Then we see them not only confused but because they’re not taking their medications properly they’re experiencing side effects and then they’re taking even less of it,” Wright said. “There’s a number of negative outcomes that can happen so we just decided we have to have some sort of means for solving these issues for patients.”

The technology used in the Parata PASS 208 is something that has been widely accepted for close to 10 years in other parts of the world, but only in the past five years has the United States begun to accept the automated dispensing system.

Wright believes the reluctance to adopt the new system comes from the fact that the technology is still a relatively new idea and pharmacies aren’t always open to change.

“People as individuals are sometimes resistant to change but industries as a whole are very resistant to change,” Wright said. “The traditional pharmaceutical dispensed in the vial, that’s a huge comfort zone. It’s been the industry standard for quite some time. But I think with us it fit well in the mantra of Wagner Pharmacy. We like to get a little more involved with our patients.”

Implementing the new technology is something Wright strongly believes in and imagines other retail pharmacies will begin adapting to the new age of pharmaceutical dispensary sooner rather than later.