HOURS SAVED: Trainee Daisy Gordon in front of the TARDIS, a new robotic medication dispensary system at McDonalds Amcal Pharmacy in Casino.
HOURS SAVED: Trainee Daisy Gordon in front of the TARDIS, a new robotic medication dispensary system at McDonalds Amcal Pharmacy in Casino. Cathy Adams

Who’s handling the stock?

MCDONALDS Pharmacy in Casino is the only pharmacy in NSW with a TARDIS.

The TARDIS or Technologically Advanced Robot Dispensing Incredible Service as his staff know it, is actually a German-made ROWA dispensary automation system.

Owner John Black, a self- confessed fan of Dr Who and Star Trek said he was predisposed to liking gadgets.

"The robot definitely has a wow factor," Mr Black said.

"It cost more than $200,000 so it's basically my Ferrari."

There are only seven of the dispensary machines in Australia and Mr Black's is the only one in NSW.

The machine is basically a robotic arm mounted on tracks inside a purpose-built store room.

It scans and stacks new stock and then dispenses the correct drugs when the pharmacist enters details from a prescription, saving staff five hours per day at Mr Black's busy pharmacy.

Aside from the speed, the machine allows for more accurate stock control.

"With hand entry there are always errors, whereas with the machine, stock levels are 99.9% correct," Mr Black said.

McDonalds Pharmacy in Casino was established in 1928 and Mr Black bought the business in 1986.

In 1997 he relocated the pharmacy from 93 Walker Street to much larger premises that was previously the Marble Bar Cafe at 83 Walker St.

This is where his Greek immigrant parents had their original milk bar business.

"It takes a certain type to be a pharmacist because of the routine," he said.

Over the years Mr Black has seen an enormous amount of change in the pharmacy business.

As well as seeing changes to the types of drugs he is dispensing, Mr Black also cites the introductions of Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) as two of the biggest changes to affect his industry.

"Medicare and the PBS meant everyone could afford to go to the doctor and afford to get treatment," he said.

"And with 85% of drugs now being fixed cost, it makes the pharmacy business very stable and pre- dictable."



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