ATM-like Pharmacy Dispensing  Unit launched in South Africa

ATM-like Pharmacy Dispensing Unit launched in South Africa

The Pharmacy Dispensing Unit (PDU) is the first of its kind in Africa and was developed by a team comprising experts from Right to Care and Right ePharmacy in collaboration with the Gauteng Department of Health. The Pharmacy Dispensing Unit (PDU) works like an ATM for medication, with Skype-like audio-visual interaction between patient and tele-pharmacists, cloud-based electronic software and robotic technology to dispense and label medication.

Groundbreaking medical technology enabled the launch of Africa's first pharmacy dispensing unit (PDU) in the Johannesburg suburb of Alexandra on Thursday this week — a self-service ATM-style unit that gives patients with chronic illnesses their repeat medication, reportedly in under three minutes.

The medication is dispensed in a simple five-step process:

  • Patient scans barcoded ID book, ID card or pharmacy card and enters PIN;
  • Patient talks to a remote pharmacist;
  • The prescription and / or items are selected;
  • The medicine is robotically dispensed and labelled, and drops into the collection slot;
  • Patient takes receipt, which indicates next collection date.


Fanie Hendriksz, managing director of Right ePharmacy, says the PDUs might increase patients' adherence to their medication in South Africa – a crucial obstacle in the path toward equitable healthcare in the country.

"This pharmacy enhances access to quality pharmaceutical services and improves patient convenience. The early benefits have shown valuable patient and community data trends that are needed to improve patient outcomes. The technology is making it easier for people with various illnesses to have access to medication, ultimately improving adherence."

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