Pharmacists Count on Kirby Lester Robots to Save Time

By Kukec, Anna Marie | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), March 18, 2013 | Go to article overview

Pharmacists Count on Kirby Lester Robots to Save Time


Kukec, Anna Marie, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Anna Marie Kukec Daily Herald Business Ledger Writer akukec@dailyherald.com

After a patient's prescription is delivered to a local pharmacy, a high-speed robot just may be selecting the prescribed drug, counting the pills, printing the label and adhering it to a selected container, all in about 20 seconds.

And other pill counting machines could become just as high-tech with the addition of a web camera that allows the pharmacist to double check the machine's work from anywhere, including another store or even while at home, said Garry Zage, CEO of Lake Forest-based Kirby Lester, which he acquired about 7 years ago.

And the company appears to be a part of that evolution.

"Kirby Lester wants to equip pharmacists to do more," said Zage.

The 41-year-old company is evolving with new technology just as the role of the pharmacist is evolving, too. The company already sells the next generation robot, called the KL100 that can practically speed-dial prescriptions and finish the order in about 20 seconds. And it still sells new generation pill counting machines to any number of well-known retail pharmacies and those inside supermarkets, hospitals, government agencies and mail order drug companies, Zage said.

But with the addition of webcams, the new technology could move the role of the pharmacist away from being a pill counter to more of an adviser and educator to consumers.

The role of the pharmacist has been changing for several decades now, said Michelle Spinnler, a spokeswoman for the American Pharmacists Association in Washington, D.C. "Pharmacists have gone from making medications to making medications work," said Spinnler. "While technology plays a role in assisting them, the practice of pharmacy has been changing as a whole."

When Zage was a younger pharmacist, he used the Kirby Lester machines for counting certain prescriptions. At that time, the company was based in Stanford, Conn.

"The quality was always there," Zage recalled.

In September 2005, he decided to purchase Kirby Lester, kept the name and relaunched the brand, and expanded a sales and marketing team to boost the products.

The company then released a number of new products, including the most recent KL100, that doles out 100 of the most prescribed medications, and its previous generation of KL60, that had a capacity for 60 medications. …

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