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01/13/2021

Walgreens makes significant investment in pharmacy automation

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Walgreens Boots Alliance is acquiring the majority share of a pharmacy automation technology company. 

The drugstore giant has made a majority investment in iA, a provider of software-enabled automation solutions for retail, hospital, federal healthcare, and mail-order pharmacy markets. The investment will support iA’s expansion and further development of pharmacy automation solutions for the entire pharmacy industry.

Walgreens has been making moves to help grow its core pharmacy and healthcare businesses. Earlier in January, the retailer sold the majority of its pharmacy wholesale operation Alliance Healthcare, to AmerisourceBergen in a $6.5 billion cash and stock deal. Retail U.S. pharmacy sales rose a better-than-expected 3.9% to $27.2 billion during Walgreens’ recently concluded first quarter.

iA’s pharmacy automation solutions are designed to enable the shifting of much of the current medication-dispensing labor that takes place in a retail pharmacy to more efficient, centralized settings, freeing up more time for pharmacists to deliver front-line patient care. Terms of the investment were not disclosed.

“The role of pharmacists as an integral part of the healthcare system and patients’ care teams has never been more critical,” said Stefano Pessina, executive vice chairman and CEO, Walgreens Boots Alliance. “The iA mission to further modernize and automate the prescription fulfillment process aligns with our priority to create the pharmacy of the future, reducing operational costs and enabling pharmacists to spend more time providing valuable healthcare services to patients such as vaccinations, diagnostic testing and medication management.”

“iA is passionately committed to working across all of pharmacy to ensure that all of our current customers, and any pharmacy across the country, has an opportunity to realize the optimum use and expansion of our software enabled pharmacy automation solutions,” said Marvin Richardson, CEO of iA. “Over the past year, we have seen an unprecedented demand for our solutions in order to move pharmacists’ non-patient facing work out of a store environment, allowing pharmacy providers of any size and any location to take advantage of the accuracy and efficacy of today’s pharmacy automation solutions while providing improved patient choice and impactful patient care. Together with WBA, we will work to unleash the full potential of pharmacy.”