Posted by: Emily Hardaker4 AUG 2011
Recently I was in Italy, and as I was strolling along thestreet weaving in and out of the hordes of tourists who seem unable to walk incrowds effectively, I found myself forced into a corner between a handbag standand a vending machine.
My first thought, brilliant I’m starving. Secondthought, that’s not crisps it's aspirin. My next thought was a conflicted one,am I more intrigued by this sight to investigate or is my hunger of a higherimportance?
The vending machine was filled with non-prescription drugs fromwhat I could see before I was dragged off by my growling stomach. Themachine itself looked old, it was weathered and rusting. I can’t remember the exactwording on it. However, I do remember that it was "Captain Obvious" whohad labelled it, mainly due to the phrase "24h" being present.
And here was Ithinking that vending machines had exactly the same opening hours as shops,what a fool I’ve been to think that they were governed by an independent on/offswitch.
Regardless, my main problem was the fact that it housed things like paracetamol whereas, in this country, there’s a limit to the amount ofmedicines you can buy at one time from, say, a supermarket. With a vendingmachine, surely, there would be no way to tell who was buying what combinationand quantity of products in one go. Therefore, doesn’t this make it vulnerableas a system due to it being so easy to abuse?
Further research intovending machines, pharmacy-based vending machines and others would be pointless. I found that last year Sainsbury’s trialled a similarconcept. However, as The Journal itself reported, it was merely a dispensary aid forprescriptions that people had already dropped off.
It seemed that it wasbrought in as a tool for customers' convenience. For example, those whoweren’t able to arrive during pharmacy opening hours, or if they only needed tocollect a prescription at a particularly busy time, etc. The pharmacist stillhas to check each prescription so their role in the process is still more orless the same, it’s just possibly reducing the amount of other staff neededbehind the counter.
And is that a good idea when there’s not enough jobs to goaround at this time anyway? I know from personal experience that it’s prettyhard to even get an interview for a pharmacy job where I live, then again, maybe that’s just me.
Either way these machines sound like the future even though I think I’m morepartial to the personal service of our pharmacies currently. The vending machine Isaw in Italy is still worrying me slightly, but maybe I should take a leaf out ofthe Italians' book and just relax a bit more.