Pharmabox opens automated pharmacies in unconventional locations

The Pharmabox Automated Pharmacy -- a new self-service, vending machine drugstore – is being unveiled in unconventional, under-served locations as fast as the Miami-based Pharmabox Inc., is able to set up the kiosks.

The large, grey Pharmabox stall is a stand-alone display case offering more than 140 top-selling, brand-name, over-the-counter items typically found in a local pharmacy. The kiosk resembles a hip doctor’s case, complete with handle, and each unit includes a 32-inch touch screen that allows customers to select and then pay for merchandise using a credit card, bills or coins.

The unique concept is the vision of Alejandro Rodriguez, the founder and CEO, who spent two years researching and developing Pharmabox.

“Alejandro is an entrepreneur with a deep concern for the less fortunate,” Randall Huft, vice president of sales and marketing for Pharmabox, told American Pharmacy News. “He found in his travels there were many areas throughout the world where quality name-brand medicines were simply not available in a convenient manner. This is especially true in lower income areas, rural areas, and senior citizen housing, where transportation to a store may be a challenge, prices may be high, and product selection poor."

Calling the system "A Pharmacy at Your Fingertips," Huft said Pharmabox is designed to solve such problems “by bringing quality products to under-served populations. These systems can be placed virtually anywhere there is a need.”

Similar to the company’s founder and CEO, Pharmabox also has a social conscience and is committed to giving back to the community. For each 10 items sold, the company donates one meal through The Homeless Voice, a Davie, Florida-based nonprofit providing food and shelter to more than 500 homeless people daily and serving some 45,000 meals each month at its housing locations in South and Central Florida.

With the first Pharmabox units now in South Florida, Huft said new locations are being rolled out “as fast as we can.”

The company expects to have the first 100 locations set up by the end of October with a planned 250 up and running by the end of the year, he said. The plans are to deploy them in a variety of high-traffic locations, including apartment complexes, college campuses and dormitories, airports and other transportation centers, hotels, business and fitness centers, hospitals, and sports stadiums.

“The goal for next year is to reach 1,000 locations nationwide,” Huft said. “We believe the market for these systems is at least as big as Redbox, which has over 40,000 units. We believe people need access to medicines, health care items, personal items, and the other merchandise we carry at least as often as they need a movie rental.”

At the same time, Huft disclosed that Pharmabox is in talks with some of the country’s major pharmacy chain retailers who are interested in developing a branded kiosk in areas where they cannot build or can’t justify the expense of a brick-and-mortar location. Additionally, Pharmabox has struck contracts with major pharmaceutical companies that admire the business model, Huft told American Pharmacy News. The company also is accepting inquiries for exclusive distributorships and franchises.

Huft says that customer reaction has been "fantastic,” largely due to the convenience of the 24/7 system.

“From businessmen needing an antacid or aspirin, to moms needing some pediatric cold medicine, or college students needing a contraceptive, we are flooded with favorable responses,” he said. “Seniors love having a mini-pharmacy nearby and lower income people – often with little or no access to convenient transportation – enjoy being able to shop for their necessities in our convenient kiosk and at the same prices they would pay in a major chain or discount store.”

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Pharmabox 8211 NW 64th St Miami, FL - 33166