Generic-sampling ATMs: Friend or foe?

April 3, 2006

A boon to patients but a threat to community pharmacies. That's how pharmacists see the Generic Delivery Network, which provides patients with 30-day samples of selected generic drugs via ATM-like kiosks placed in physicians' offices.

A boon to patients but a threat to community pharmacies. That's how pharmacists see the Generic Delivery Network, which provides patients with 30-day samples of selected generic drugs via ATM-like kiosks placed in physicians' offices.

MedVantx recruits several major health plans in a given state to combine forces and sponsor the program. They place Sample Centers in offices of physicians who can now distribute over 20 generic samples along with the more traditional branded samples. The Sample Centers are installed and stocked by MedVantx, which invoices each participating health plan. "We focus on nine chronic therapeutic classes where there is high cost, like diabetes, depression, pain, and cardiovascular disease," Feeney said.

"Yes, but ...," says the pharmacy community. Several pharmacists expressed their concerns to Drug Topics. Bill Stout, R.Ph., owner of Hollywood Prescriptions, Portland, Ore., has dealt with the center firsthand. Initially he didn't see a problem. "Generics are our bread and butter; they're what we can make a little money on, particularly antibiotics and short-term-use drugs. No, this was going to be long-term-use generics, only 30 days, and then they'll have prescriptions. I said, OK, I can put up with that. Well, that's not what happened. They started putting antibiotics in there. It couldn't help but affect us."

Feeney conceded that the center does include "a couple of" anti-infectives "really to have enough overlap so that the physician uses the kiosk as a first-line therapy program. What we're trying to do is get the doctor to go to this kiosk to initiate therapy and therefore use generics more prolifically, and you have to include enough of a cross-section of drugs in the program to make it relevant to their workflow."