Health Policy Check Up News

Pharmacy from the Machine: CVS Launches a New Type of Vending Machine

America has been called a “fast food society” with a reputation for wanting things quick and easy as if we were driving through our local fast food chain for lunch. However, the desire and focus on achieving healthier lifestyles has also become a topic of discussion in recent years. How does one balance a healthy lifestyle without sacrificing our love for the drive through type of accessibility? CVS believes they have the answer.

CVS recently announced they will be offering retail vending machines that will offer healthy snacks, personal care products, and even health products and over-the-counter medication. The vending machines will offer over 70 different products that will aim to provide a convenient way to purchase popular everyday items.

It is expected the majority of the items featured will be from the CVS brand and CVS family of products, meaning other brands may be left out and thus unavailable for purchase in the vending machine format.

Medication for colds, allergies, coughs, digestive health, and pain relievers will be available for purchase at the touch of a button and without a pharmacist on duty. Unlike a standard CVS or other retail pharmacy facility, the consumer won’t have a pharmacist on duty to inquire about medication questions such as suggested dosage and proper use, potentially dangerous medication interactions, or questions about the ingredients.

Replacing the pharmacist is a touch screen feature that will offer product information. Unfortunately, the touch screen has no way of knowing the individual needs of each person and will be providing preset information that is not specific to the purchaser.

The impact of the CVS vending machine is unclear but it does point to a new avenue in pharmacy sales. For instance, one can imagine the local college student suffering from an afternoon headache and stopping by the CVS vending machine between classes. Will this student understand how to use the medication correctly? Is he taking any other medication that may interact negatively? Will this student be aware of any of the side effects from this medication? Pharmacists by no means guarantee safety in medication use but their presence does offer a way for patients to take their care a step further. Nobody can be certain what the effects of these vending machines will be but their debut will prove to be another step away from traditional pharmacy.

The first 25 CVS vending machines will be dispersed in the northeast throughout October and include places such as parks, airports, and college campuses. Dependent on consumer response, CVS is expected to expand these vending machines to additional locations. For the latest information on policy and market trends, contact us today.