Medical Device Daily

Jewelers wouldn’t keep their most valuable gems in an unlocked case so why should pharmacies store their most valuable products — refrigerated drugs — in an unlocked fridge?

The answer, thanks to a new product from Talyst (Bellevue, Washington), is that soon they will no longer have to.

The AutoCool, a product from Talyst, is a controlled-access refrigerator operated by the company’s AutoPharm software that integrates with pharmacy barcoding, storage, inventory, ordering and clinical systems. The AutoCool system is being demonstrated this week at the mid-year clinical meeting of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP; Bethesda, Maryland) in Anaheim, California.

“It’s an interesting product in the fact that only 10% of pharmaceuticals are refrigerated but they represent nearly 90% of the value that’s in the pharmaceutical industry,” James Torina, president/CEO of Talyst, told Medical Device Daily.

Torina said most pharmacies today use ordinary refrigerators with glass doors offering much-too-easy access to the drugs inside.

“Hospital pharmacies of all sizes told us they needed a better solution for managing the valuable inventory in their refrigerators,” Torina said. “When a single vial of an injectable drug can have a value in the hundreds, even thousands of dollars, managing inventory based on real-time data becomes critical.”

AutoCool provides access to 84 separate compartments, each of which can be used for single or multiple doses of refrigerated medications. Those compartments are automatically rotated to appear behind seven secured doors that have automated lock releases and lighted indicators, the company said.

Talyst expects deliveries of the AutoCool to begin in July.

The system is about 6-feet tall and 32-inches wide, Torina said, and is designed to fit into the space of an older refrigerator that it is replacing. He said the product would cost about $35,000 per refrigerator.

“It’s unique, it’s the first product on the market that does this, and it’s patent-pending,” Torina said.

Torina said the system tracks the pharmaceutical inventory by barcode, and if a product doesn’t have a barcode one will be made for it.

The AutoCool with AutoPharm also is designed to control refrigerated inventory in the central pharmacy or satellite locations, and multiple units can be used together. Personnel access can be controlled by password security, the company said.

“Pharmacies are full of inventory silos, with medications and data stored in multiple locations,” said Ron Strandin, recently named president of Talyst’s Acute Care Group (Medical Device Daily, Dec. 1, 2006). “The refrigerator is one of those silos, separate from the bulk of the inventory data.” He termed AutoCool “a breakthrough in tying the physical security to the real-time pharmacy inventory. This provides the surest tracking of doses, staff access and ordering. That ultimately delivers greater safety, efficiency and cost control.”

Other benefits of the AutoCool with AutoPharm, according to Talyst, include the pick-to-light indicators that direct staff through stocking and picking activities; the limited access to a single line item and the provided audit trail for all storage and retrieval activities; and constant temperature control and remote temperature settings.

The AutoCool unit is designed for high reliability and maximum up-time, Talyst said, and the stainless steel surfaces and accessibility to all areas provide easy cleaning and maintenance.

Because the average pharmacy has 250 refrigerated pharmaceuticals, Torina said, multiple AutoCool units can be daisy-chained to automate all or just a portion of a pharmacy’s refrigerated items.

Founded in 2002, Talyst provides automated systems to hospitals and other centralized pharmacies. Dale Gluck, a spokesman for the company, told MDD that Talyst products, including the AutoCool, connect to all major brands of pharmacy equipment and hospital information systems and that the company is focused on helping pharmacy directors make all of their systems speak to each other.

Last month Talyst reported raising $20 million to help push its automation systems to market (MDD, Nov. 13, 2006).

It was during last year’s ASHP meeting in Las Vegas that the company, which had been known until then as Integrated Healthcare Systems , unveiled its rebranding as Talyst (MDD, Dec. 7, 2005). Talyst says its new name “addresses our role in helping pharmacies create positive change in your medication management process.”

The new pharmaceutical refrigerator could be seen as one example of that role.

“AutoCool is a result of Talyst’s single-minded focus on the pharmacy and our commitment to deliver innovative products to assist in controlling costs and increasing patient safety,” Torina said.