Technology has touched every area of our lives. We have devices in our pockets that allow us to be in constant contact with our loved ones and colleagues, our vehicles are beginning to use the technology needed to drive themselves and our refrigerators can tell us when we need to stop at the grocery store.
Many of these advances are helpful, but some are concerning. One specific advance that has led government officials to voice concerns involves the automation of pharmaceutical sales.
How are pharmaceutical sales automated? Automated Dispensing Machines (ADM) are essentially vending machines that have computer-controlled storage systems to dispense and track medications. These machines store and provide prescription medications to customers.
Those in favor of ADMs claim the machines will provide a secure means to store and track controlled substances. Those opposed to ADMs point to repeated instances of medication errors as evidence to support reevaluation of the use of these machines.
Are these machines legal? Not always, and generally not in New York. New York State’s Office of the Professions recently published a reminder calling on pharmacies in the state to refrain from use of ADMs. These machines, the publication states, are a violation of state law.
What happens if a pharmacy in NY operates an ADM? The Office of the Professions reminds pharmacies that they can face “disciplinary and unprofessional conduct action” if they fail to abide by applicable laws and choose to operate an ADM. If a violation is suspected, the prosecutors can build a case against the pharmacy and the lead pharmacist.
This is just one example of the constantly changing regulatory landscape pharmacists must navigate within their field. Any professional that faces allegations of violations of these regulations is wise to seek the counsel of an experienced health care attorney to help better ensure a thorough defense based on the most recent regulations.