Prices were comparable to other retail pharmacies such as Watsons and Guardian. In some cases, the products sold at the vending machine were slightly lower.
For instance, a box of 12 Panadol Cold Relief caplets was priced at S$10.60 (US$7.90). This is cheaper than Guardian, which carries the same product at S$11.
While this reporter did not see anyone using the vending machine when she was there, Essentials Pharmacy’s general manager Simone Tan said there are five to 10 transactions a day on average.
This increases during flu season, she said, adding that the machine is restocked one to two times a week.
Besides dispensing medicines round the clock, the machine is also equipped with a teleconsultation feature for users to consult pharmacists, and get information on which medicine to purchase and how to use it correctly.
However, this feature is temporarily unavailable due to manpower constraints, the company said.
SmartRx, the developer of the machines, told CNA it plans to roll out 50 units by the end of the year, with some to be installed in locations such as supermarkets, petrol stations and ActiveSG centres.
So far, it has installed five vending machines across Singapore for different purposes.
For instance, at Singapore Chung Hwa Medical Institution’s headquarters in Toa Payoh, the vending machine dispenses traditional Chinese medicines. Another at the National Dental Centre Singapore offers dental-related products such as toothbrushes, dental floss and mouthwash.
In March, the company partnered healthcare group Minmed to launch a telemedicine clinic at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) that is equipped with a dispensing machine where users can collect prescribed drugs.