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RFID connectivity with dispensers and patients; energy efficiency for cold chain storage
For a number of years now, AmerisourceBergen Specialty Group has provided the Cubixx unit, a mini-refrigerator that can store temperature-controlled pharmaceuticals at the point of dispensing—even the patient’s home. A newly upgraded version features innovative solid-state electronics technology from a developer, Phononic (Durham, NC), that uses a heat-pump technique (rather than a conventional compressor) to provide precise (within 1°C) cooling with electrical consumption equivalent to a 40W light bulb. Another component, RFID-based readers combined with an internet connection, enable clients (or AmerisourceBergen, as part of a vendor-managed inventory program) to monitor the disposition of the pharmaceuticals stored in the refrigerator. A supplier, SimplyRFID (Warrenton, VA), provides modular RFID components that enable onsite maintenance of the RFID system.
Phononics sells its refrigerators under the Evolve brandname; it retails for $2350-3500 (1.8 to 5.5 cu. ft.), and other drug distributors offer that unit. With Cubixx, the units are provided under an open-ended leasing arrangement, and the AmerisourceBergen organization is supplying the unit (through World Courier and other AmerisourceBergen specialty-distribution services) to 15 countries.
Cubixx addresses a critical element of specialty distribution: ensuring the safe storage of what could be highly expensive drugs, at the “last mile” just before dispensing. Most pharmacies and doctor’s offices make some accommodation for storing temperature-controlled products, but the accommodation can be little more than a conventional mini-fridge with little or no temperature monitoring. Enabling this service to extend to the patient’s home further streamlines the dispensing process for patient-administered drugs. “The patients and physicians who use Cubixx daily are at the forefront of personalized medicine. They need solutions that will allow them to store unique, temperature-sensitive medication more reliably, and we’re proud to be the partner to make that possible,” says Chris Flori, VP, business innovation at Cubixx Solutions.