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Ownership Change Ensures Robots Remain in NZ


From: Pharmacy One Ltd

Ownership Change Ensures Robots Remain in New Zealand

For release: Thursday 27th October 2005


A change of ownership within the pharmaceutical industry has ensured that New Zealand will retain its capacity for the robotic packaging of medicines.

Pharmacy One Ltd, the largest supplier of pharmacy services to New Zealand’s residential care industry, has acquired the business and assets of Medication Packaging Systems Ltd (MPS), the company operating the industry’s sole robotics packaging unit.

Prior to the purchase, Pharmacy One was a minority shareholder in MPS, the majority owner being Pharmacy Brands, parent company of the Amcal, Dispensary First and Unichem brands.

“Although robotic pharmaceutical packaging has existed in New Zealand for approximately four years, we have not, till now, had a robust business model, capable of ensuring profitability for this important service. Our acquisition of MPS will ensure the service’s survival,” says Pharmacy One Director, Greg Macpherson.

Robotics-filled sachets, known as compliance packs, allow for vastly improved accuracy in the packaging of prescribed doses of pharmaceuticals. They are increasingly favoured by residential care operators both because of the greatly reduced incidence of error and because of the administrative efficiencies they promote.

“Pharmacy Brands deserves praise for its sustained attempt to encourage member pharmacists to use the new service. Despite this, there has been only limited pickup of the new technology by member pharmacists. In contrast, over 50% of Pharmacy One’s business involves the use of robotics,” says Mr Macpherson.

“We are convinced that robotic packaging is the way of the future for our company and industry. Approximately one million pills per month and 490 different medications are currently dispensed and packaged with the assistance of robotics in our laboratory. Our compliance packs have a 99.9997% accuracy rate and are helping residential care organisations achieve savings of up to 30% in the time needed for medication rounds.

“With the residential care industry’s current emphasis on effective risk management and quality governance, our customers from that sector will be conscious of the importance of our best-practice approach to compliance packaging.

“An aspect of best practice is our internet-based software system that connects nurses, doctors and pharmacists, allowing the sharing of medication and care service information online. The system is licensed from our partner organisation, MPS Australia, a leading provider of pharmacy services across the Tasman,” he says.

Mr Macpherson also points to the potential use of robotics in packaging prescription medicines for customers who are not in residential care and, particularly, for the increasing number who source their medicines online.

“We are looking forward to integrating the robotics technology with the full range of our activities, including those of our wholly-owned subsidiary, Pharmacy Direct, which is New Zealand largest online pharmacy. The MPS team bring a very high level of expertise to our operations and should help us achieve new efficiencies in a wide range of areas.

“We are very excited about what the future holds and pleased to have played a crucial role in retaining this leading-edge technology in New Zealand.” he adds.


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