This was what I asked my fellow pharmacy managers and most said no, there are too many “shades of gray” in retail pharmacy that require a pharmacist to figure out. I do agree that pharmacists are required for a lot of tasks that a robot can not do like: counseling, unclear directions, catching uncommon errors, etc. On the other hand, I am a big fan of science fiction, and imagining a world where there are robot pharmacists really piques my interest.
Thinking rationally though, there could be a pharmacy where only robot dispensing units are present. Simply, you just need to meet a few specific parameters.
1) The pharmacy likely has to be in an outpatient hospital setting, not retail. This allows it to have a set formulary, creating a very controlled environment.
2) Providers (from the hospital) can only order medication on the formulary and only with very specific directions.
3) If there are any major drug interactions, doctors can not order those medications. They will have to pick something else.
4) You have a robot filling all medications. You can have another robot check to make sure the right pills are in the bottles. Pharmacy technicians will dispense the medications to patients.
Of course, this hospital outpatient pharmacy can not exist at this point due to pharmacy laws but at least, it should be relatively safe for patients.
There are quite a few issues with this pharmacy of course, feel free to point them out 🙂