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Walgreens Turns to Prescription-Filling Robots to Free Up Pharmacists


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empty pill bottles move along a conveyor belt at Walgreens' automated drug filling center near Dallas

Walgreens' automated drug filling center near Dallas fills 35,000 prescriptions a day.

Credit: Jake Dockins / The Wall Street Journal

U.S. pharmacy chain Walgreens is deploying robots to fill prescriptions for drugstores amid a nationwide shortage of pharmacists and pharmacist technicians.

Robotic arms operating on assembly lines at automated drug-filling centers sort and bottle pills, and place them on conveyor belts. The goal is to free up pharmacists to provide medical services like vaccinations, which are a new and expanding revenue channel. Pharmacy automation software and technology supplier iA provides the robots.

Walgreens says the technology slashes pharmacist workloads by at least 25%, and will save the company over $1 billion annually. More drugstores are looking to automate and centralize drug fulfillment, says iA's chief automation officer Alecia Lashier.

From The Wall Street Journal
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