Emergency room bottles lighten load for pharmacists

Related tags Pharmacy

Understaffing and heavy workloads are constant problems for
hospital pharmacies in the US, but one company believes it has a
packaging solution that could speed up dispensing.

NuCare Pharmaceuticals has launched a pre-filled pharmaceutical bottle - the ER Pack - made specifically for hospital emergency room departments, which aims to remove the amount of time hospital pharmacists need to spend on dispensing and reduce the risk of errors.

The ER Packs are smaller than traditional pharmaceutical bottles so pharmacies can fit more in dispensing cabinets or robotic dispensing machines, according to the firm. In addition, the sytem allows pharmacists to order their most common prescription refills in pre-packs.

Each bottle is sealed, child-resistant and bar-coded at NuCare's pharmaceutical repackaging facilities, and feature the firm's proprietary EZ-PEEL labels, used for charting and dispensing logs and colour-coded by drug class.

Hundreds of Schedule and non-Schedule drugs in different formularies are currently available in ER Packs, according to Douglas Ginter, NuCare's chief executive.

The problem of understaffing looks set to stay, with a report by the University of California San Francisco's Centre for the Health Professions, predicting that pharmacist numbers will not meet demand in the US for another 20 years.

"In the fast-paced hospital setting, the pharmacist is already doing more work and with less staff,"​ commented Ginter. "That's the last thing anybody wants. We knew there had to be a way to make dispensing medication easier, quicker and safer."

Now, he said, instead of having to pre-fill and label hundreds of drugs with a handful of pills to a bottle, pharmacists can purchase directly from NuCare, freeing up their time for better patient care and eliminating errors and tedious work.

The system is expected to be particularly popular for controlled drugs such as opioid analgesics, which are often prescribed in very small quantities.

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