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Pharmacy Steps Into Future With Pill Packer

It’s been easy to see how Keith Guy’s pharmacy network keeps growing, with a new store that just opened in Summit representing the most noticeable expansion.

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Guy, who also owns the Medical Center Pharmacy on Marion Avenue in McComb, Southwest Discount Drugs in the Pike Center Mart and stores in Brookhaven in Crystal Springs, rarely sits still when it comes to his business. And lately he hasn’t had the opportunity to.

The long-anticipated opening of the Summit store last week coincided with another significant development for Guy — the installation of an automated pill packaging system at Southwest Discount Drugs, which will soon have a major logistical role in serving customers at all of Guy’s stores.

“This machine is the newest technology and it’s going to be the fastest,” said Guy, who had been looking at installing the device for the past 21⁄2 years and decided to hold off until an “easier, faster, newer” version of the RapidPakRX came out.

Pharmacists optically scan medication, which is photographed by a computer. They set up a dosage schedule and then load it into cartridges. The machine figures out how to package it all, spitting out perforated sleeves of cellophane packets of medication.

Labels on the packages have icons of the rising sun for pills to be taken in the morning, a sun for pills to be taken during the day and a moon for nighttime medications, with the recommended time of dosage printed on the label, as well as what’s inside each packet.

“It tells you the particular date you take them and what’s inside,” Guy said. “We can schedule it if they take one pill once a week.”

Store pharmacist Dennis Lee said the packages will help patients keep better track of their medication and make sure they’re not taking too much or too little of it. The convenience for customers can be seen in many other ways, he said.

“If you’re going to visit somebody for a weekend, you just tear off what you need, stick it in your purse or whatever,” Lee said.

With the addition of the RapidPakX, Southwest Discount Drugs will package medication for  customers who request the service at all of Guy’s locations.

“This is going to be central. We will fill for our other stores here,” Guy said, adding that customers can still choose to pick up their medication at whichever drug store they prefer. “I’ll actually have to fill the prescription here, but you won’t notice it.”

The pharmacy also will deliver the medications.

“We are going to deliver once a month to you, even if you lived in Byram,” Guy said, adding that deliveries will be done in about a 40-mile radius “all up and down I-55.”

The packaged medication comes in a white cardboard box.

“There are some exciting things going on that we hope to bring to this area. That’s been the goal down through the years,” Guy said.

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