Retail Pharmacy Dispensing Machine Startup Raises $30 Million

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Canadian startup MedAvail announces that it has closed a $30 million Series C round led by Pura Vida Investments, with support from Deerfield Management Company, Adage Capital Management, and returning investors Redmile Group, Walgreens, and Alliance Boots GmbH. MedAvail is building an unmanned, stand-alone medication dispensing kiosk meant to be installed in grocery stores, primary care offices, or even ER or urgent care centers. The kiosk’s help extend the footprint of local pharmacies by giving them the ability to maintain a physical location where it might not otherwise make sense to build and staff a pharmacy. MedAvail says it is trying to do for pharmacies what ATMs did for banking.

MedAvail designed the entire medication dispensing process so that it is tightly controlled by a remotely connected pharmacist. By scanning the barcode on a prescription or pill bottle, the kiosk can call up the patient and the prescription details. Next, the kiosk will connect the patient with a remote pharmacist who will answer any questions the patient might have, collect any medication copay required, and then dispense the requested medications.  The medication stock itself is stored in a climate-controlled vault within the machine, where access is restricted and refill activity is logged and auditable.

Walgreens piloted  two of the dispensing machines this past summer, placing one at one of its distribution centers for employee use, and another at a local health clinic. Walgreens spokesman Jim Cohn explains, "Knowing that approximately 30 percent of the prescriptions written by a prescriber go unfilled, this technology may allow us to begin to address some of these issues by providing another convenient option to have prescriptions filled."

The company will use the funding to commercialize the dispensing machines, which have yet to be made publically available.


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