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Ex Pharmacia: dispensing goes human-free

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Robot hand holding pill


“… And that is why I will ensure this government, a government of the people and for the people, strives to ensure we deliver the best deal for rejoining the EU in 2042.”

Prime minister Scarlett Moffatt had just finished her rousing speech to the House of Commons, the first major address given since its relocation from Westminster to Barnsley.

“Think that’s controversial?” said Doris Futureton. “The RPS are about to vote on the inclusion of technicians, the last time they considered that decades ago the English Pharmacy Board nominees got into a right old fight. The police had to be called; there were dispensing triangles lodged in places you wouldn’t believe!” “I remember, bad times,” replied Brad.

Brad was surprisingly wise, considering his technology had only been around for the past 15 years or so. Originally given the lacklustre title of ‘Pharmatron 3000x’, Brad had originally been designed to undertake supervision and allow the five large dispensing hubs that had long ago replaced dispensing community pharmacies to operate entirely human free.

The open source artificial intelligence software, however, had allowed Brad and his counterparts to branch out into other areas of traditional ‘pharmacy’ work. Not only could he use algorithms and advanced questioning techniques to diagnose minor ailments and undertake repeat prescribing, he could also sell homeopathy without once suffering from the troubled conscience so problematic to humans who have to put aside their knowledge of evidence based medicine in order to placate a bothersome customer.

Although he was Doris’ best friend, he was technically owned by the Waldorf Minton Corporation. WM Co were a global conglomerate of venture capitalists who had been largely responsible for ‘The Disruption’ – an event unlike any other in pharmacy. All patients had been moved onto compliance aids which were dispensed in the WM hubs and delivered to people’s houses by ‘MedDrones’. Compliance with prescribed regimens was initially monitored by Facetube, the government’s primary data partner, until there was a public outcry when details of the home secretary’s supratherapeutic plasma sildenafil level was leaked by The Daily Mail.

“I’m getting too old for this Brad, I’m 87 next week and I’ve still got 13 years until I reach my pensionable age. Pharmacy is a young person’s game. I’ve seen it all before.”

“Still, at least we’ve got the World Cup to look forward to. I think this could finally be England’s year,” replied Brad. “It’s hard to believe they have been beaten by Iceland at every single major tournament since 2016.”

“Yes,” said Doris. “It’s a shame Scotland didn’t qualify again. They have never been the same since Nicola Sturgeon installed herself as manager for life.”.

Ewan Maule

Ewan Maule, deputy chief pharmacist (operational services), St Nicholas Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Ewans’s piece received a special mention in our 2018 writing competition ‘Future Pharmacist’. Read more entries here.


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