The machines we're using to package the medications are the FastPak EXP from Automed (AmerisourceBergen). They have an awesome pre-installation support team. The front-end sales people were so-so -- your mileage will vary, of course, depending on the region. The sales team was Western Canada; the pre-installation support is for all of Canada.

The machines themselves have a number of quirks. Nothing that can't be worked around, but don't believe that you won't have to make any decisions yourself. Also, since we're running three machines, we've written our own little database scripts to keep the data in the machines synchronized. There's no way you should try to do it by hand, although I suspect that's what most people do because the vendor doesn't have anything to help.

The main competition to Automed are the Pacmed machines from McKesson. There are some differences between the two that will require a change to your extract or interface from whatever Pharmacy Information System you're using. Nothing big, but in software even a small thing can cost a lot of money. It's worth looking into the interface in detail if you're looking at switching from Pacmed or running both in parallel.

Because we're packaging all regularly scheduled oral solids (with some exceptions) we've found that our Pharmacy Information System wasn't really set up to handle some of the scenarios. Our distribution model seems to be different from the typical hospital pharmacy, but I don't have enough experience with hospital pharmacies to say if these challenges would generalize to other installations.