Walgreens Expands Use of Prescription-Packaging Robots

The move is hoped to free up pharmacists’ time and cut costs by $1 billion per year

Scarlett Evans

October 5, 2022

1 Min Read
Conveyor belt worker operates a robot that transports insulin bags - modern factory for the production of medicines in the healthcare sector

Walgreens is set to ramp up the use of robots at fulfillment centers to pack customer orders, in a bid to combat continued pharmacist shortages and high labor costs, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

The robots are set to be established in a network of automated, centralized drug-filling centers which sort and package different medications, an initiative Walgreens estimates could save as much as $1 billion per year, while cutting pharmacist workloads by 25%.

Time-sensitive and controlled medication prescriptions would still require a human pharmacist to sign off on them. 

The news follows Walgreens’ June announcement that it was planning to double its robot-powered micro fulfillment centers, with 22 of these first announced at the beginning of this year. An existing robotic fulfillment center outside of Dallas, Texas, reportedly fills as many as 35,000 prescriptions for 500 stores each day. 

By taking this repetitive task out of the pharmacists’ hands, Walgreens hopes to give themmore time to complete customer-facing tasks and medical services, such as vaccinations and patient advising. 

Pressure on pharmacies skyrocketed during the pandemic as they expanded to provide testing and vaccination services, a ramp-up that has continued even after the height of the pandemic has passed. This, coupled with wider labor shortages and high labor costs, motivated the turn to robots to ease workloads – something seen across industries. 

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