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    Automated Dispenser Lets New York Kmart Shoppers Get Quick Rx Refills

    NEW YORK -- In the fast-moving Big Apple, Kmart shoppers will now be able to get their prescriptions filled in something like a New York minute, if the chain's new automated prescription drug dispenser lives up to its promise.

    NEW YORK -- In the fast-moving Big Apple, Kmart shoppers will now be able to get their prescriptions filled in something like a New York minute, if the chain's new automated prescription drug dispenser lives up to its promise.

    The Troy, Mich.-based chain has installed the first dispenser this week in its three-story Penn Station store here, which fills hundreds of prescriptions every day. The equipment is the Automated Product Machine (APM), made by San Marcos, Calif.-based Distributed Delivery Networks Corp. (ddn). Resembling an ATM machine, the APM allows customers to buy and pick up refill prescriptions without waiting in lines at the pharmacy counter. The dispenser, which requires a PIN number and electronic signature, provides prescriptions with the swipe of a credit card, said Kmart.

    "ddn's APM maximizes every second of our customers' time by providing them with a more efficient alternative to pay for and retrieve refill prescriptions in less than a minute," said Kmart divisional v.p. Mark Doerr in a statement. "At Kmart, we're implementing state-of-the-art technology to better serve our customers. With the APM, we can guarantee accurate refill distribution, and more quality time with pharmacists for those seeking consultation."

    Added ddn's president William Holmes, "Kmart stands out in the retail market as a technology leader -- employing a cutting-edge kiosk technology that improves customer service, while at the same time reducing store operating costs. We are very pleased to be partnering with Kmart on this exciting installation. Penn Station is a hub of busy commuters, a perfect location for consumers to take full advantage of this time-saving, error-avoiding technology. As more retailers begin to realize the numerous benefits of the APM technology, we are sure to see a major shift in the way refill prescriptions are dispensed."

    Kmart will first gauge such factors as customer response and pharmacist workload, before installing APM machines in other locations, according to ddi spokeswoman Emily Agan. She added that an independent San Diego pharmacy has already experienced great success with the dispenser. Although Kmart is the first major national chain to feature the technology, Agan said that "serious negotiations" were currently under way with other such retailers, although she would not name them.

    Kmart, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sears Holdings Corp., offers pharmacy sections in more than 1,000 of its stores.

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