Entries in Vending Machines (4)


Marijuana Vending Machine by Calif. Company

David McNew/Getty Images(ALISO VIEJO, Calif.) -- A California company hopes to make medical marijuana a little easier to obtain and to control.

Dispense Labs, a division of the Dispensary Group, unveiled Autospense Friday, an automated dispensary that distributes medical marijuana and looks like a vending machine.

All that is needed to tap an Autospense machine is a registration card and unique PIN number, said Joe DeRobbio, Dispense Labs’ founder and CEO.

After swiping the card, the patient is granted access to a caged, camera-monitored room. From there, a patient swipes his or her card again and is given a menu to choose medicinal variety and quantity, DeRobbio said. Payment can be made with cash, credit or debit card. Once payment is received, the door to the machine opens, much like an ATM machine, to allow patients to remove their medicinal marijuana.

During after hours, Autospense is open only to patients who have agreed to the fingerprint option -- they run their prints through a scanner and swipe a registration card, DeRobbio said.

Autospense offers a secure, “businesslike” way to distribute and obtain medical marijuana, said DeRobbio. With cameras, locks and sensors, the machines are difficult to break into.

“The facilities are secure,” DeRobbio said. “There are cameras outside and inside. There are alarm sensors around and in the machine. If there’s any type of forced entry, it sets off an alarm.”

And there are consequences for tampering with the system.

“If you’re going to go in and try to rob that machine and do something silly, your membership and access to the machine is revoked permanently,” said DeRobbio.

The machine records all transactions and inventory 24 hours a day and seven days a week while securely managing a patient’s information.

The idea for the machine came when DeRobbio noticed a lack of control regarding medical marijuana. Autospense, which is currently allowed  only in dispensaries in California and Colorado, is designed to mitigate problems surrounding medical marijuana distribution, including theft and the black market, DeRobbio said.

“It’s a difficult culture,” DeRobbio said. “This provides a solution. It’s manageable, it’s controllable, and it’s transparent. Taxation comes right from the machine and every dollar is accounted for.”

Although Dispense Labs supplies the machines, it is not involved in growing the product, DeRobbio said.

“We are not associated with the industry,” he said. “We do not provide the medicine that goes in the machine.”

Medicinal marijuana has been legal in California since Proposition 215 was passed in 1996.

DeRobbio believes the Autospense system is the perfect place for medical marijuana in society.

“Medical marijuana, we believe, is here to stay,” DeRobbio said. “Here’s a way that you can control that 800-pound gorilla.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Schools Consider Putting Junk Food Back Into Vending Machines

Fuse/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- Many school districts around the country are pulling vending machines out and putting healthier food in.  But schools in Seattle are thinking about doing the opposite.

Vending machines can mean big money -- for every bag of Doritos or pack of Skittles a kid buys on campus, the school gets a cut of it.  Now the school board in Seattle is considering relaxing its ban on unhealthy food because it is costing student governments hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Current rules in Seattle are stricter than federal guidelines, allowing only milk, fruit juice, baked chips, and oat-based granola bars.

Soon some junk food could be allowed back in.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Vending Machines that Dispense Prescription Drugs

InstyMeds(MINNEAPOLIS) -- Vending machines are doling out healthier snacks, and prescription drugs, too.

InstyMeds machines, which dispense antibiotics, inhalers and sometimes powerful painkillers, have popped up at hospitals and clinics across the country, giving patients immediate, round-the-clock access to medications.

Instead of going to pharmacies, patients enter a security code that details their prescriptions and insurance coverage. A quick swipe of a debit or credit card, and the machine dispenses the medication in a prepackaged, labeled container. According to the company’s website, InstyMeds offers the “safety and security of an ATM with the simplicity of a soda machine.”

“When you need an anti-diarrhea medication, you don’t want to wait an hour,” said InstyMeds CEO Brad Schraut. ‘If you’re sick, you’re in pain, you want that medication now.”

InstyMeds machines can hold up to 102 drugs for acute ailments, such as injuries and infections. They don’t dispense drugs for lingering conditions such as high-blood pressure or diabetes.

“We don’t do chronic or refill drugs,” said Schraut. “We believe patients should be seeing a pharmacist for all their refills. But in an ER, for people who hurt themselves that day, InstyMeds can give them their prescription safely and quickly.”

Some pharmacists argue the automated service is no replacement for their expertise.

A recent survey by Consumer Reports found that nearly half of Americans take at least one prescription drug. But nearly half of them skimp on medications by not filling prescriptions, skipping dosages, cutting doses in half or using expired pills.

“Studies show that up to 30 percent of prescriptions go unfilled,” said Schraut. “But 90 percent of patients who get an InstyMeds security code end up getting their medications. If people have better access to medications, they get them and they take them.”

About 200 medical facilities in 34 states rent the machines, which have correctly filled 1.4 million prescriptions, according to the company’s website. Included in the monthly rental fee of up to $1,500 is 24/7 phone access to a pharmacist or pharmacy technician.

“We’re not replacing pharmacists; we’re using them in a different role,” said Schraut. “One pharmacist can serve many locations.”

Schraut said 99 percent of calls are about insurance coverage, not medical guidance.

InstyMeds stemmed from company founder Dr. Ken Rosenblum’s struggle to find a late-night pharmacy to fill his feverish son’s prescription for antibiotics.

“There’s nothing worse than having a sick child and not being able to fill a prescription,” said Schraut, himself a father of four. “And they never get sick Monday-to-Friday, 8-to-8.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Healthy Vending Machines Gaining Ground

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As the obesity epidemic grows, vending machines around the country have come under fire, described as bastions of empty calories and trans fats in a sea of hungry consumers.

But Sean Kelly, CEO of Human Healthy Vending, saw a market where others cast doubt.  He knew it was time to give the vending machine a makeover.

"There is a lack of access to healthy foods and drinks," said Kelly.  "There are these nutritional food deserts everywhere you look, and there's a lack of access to education at the point of sale.  There's a big demand for it."

Human Healthy Vending Machines offers several different machines, including a coffee machine, a snack machine filled with granola bars, rice-based chips, coconut waters and teas, and even a machine that dispenses healthy hot foods.

"There's no way we're going to snap fingers and tell an entire country to stop snacking," said Kelly.  "That might work for six months, but it's not sustainable.  Rather than creating no benefits, we're going to create some benefits and help people get healthier and healthier."

Now that the government has encouraged healthy eating habits to curb obesity and schools have banned sodas, sports drinks and sugary and fatty foods from vending machines, vending machines dispensing healthy snacks have become staples in school hallways and recreational centers.

"A healthy plan of eating can include healthy, portion controlled, moderate calorie snacks," said Martin Binks, clinical director of Binks Behavioral Health. "So, providing easy access to these is a great tool.  Swapping out unhealthy vending machines for healthy ones, with small portions of truly healthy options, is a great strategy."

While Binks said that, in a perfect world, no one would be bombarded with food cues and have the urge to snack, this will not likely happen, so "improving what is available to us when our planning falls short or our hunger is taking over represents a step in the right direction."

In April, the Food and Drug Administration drafted a proposal in which owners who operate 20 or more vending machines must post the calorie information for food sold inside the vending machine, unless the nutritional information is already visible from the inside. The regulation is still pending, but it will likely come into effect in the coming months, experts said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio