Automated Prescription Kiosks Are On The Table In Tallahassee

On this first day of the Legislative Session, a Senate committee is taking up a bill that would allow pharmacies to install automated systems to dispense prescription drugs when no pharmacists are available.

Democrat State Rep. Matt Willhite of Wellington filed the companion bill in the House.

"Think about it like an ATM for your money. But instead of having money inside, it's going to have prescription drugs. You would go up and you would put a prescription in the machine from your doctor, just like you'd hand it to a pharmacist at a counter."

He says his bill would make it easier for people who are just released from the hospital to fill their prescriptions without having to find an open pharmacy.

A live pharmacist will pop up on a screen to approve your prescription.

"The pharmacist that's talking to you can actually see a camera in the machine that sees the medication being put into the bottle and dispensed to you."

Willhite envisions the kiosks outside pharmacies, so that when someone gets out of the hospital after hours, they don't have to search for a 24 hour drug store. He would also like them placed on college campuses.

"Students need to get their medication and they don't have time to leave class, drive down to the pharmacy, hand in their prescription, come back in two to three hours and get back to class."

He says there's nothing new about the technology.

"There's two in the state of Florida right now, as we speak. There's one in Jacksonville and one in Miami that are already available but they're at a hospital setting.

Some states already have these operating at community pharmacies and Willhite says everything will be done to ensure the safety of the patient.

"We want to make sure that everything is done and all safety measures are in place to make sure that this does not hurt anybody."

The proposed legislation is bipartisan, as the Senate bill was filed by Republican Travis Hutson of St. Augustine.