Traces of pharmaceutical production can be traced back to the mid-19th century. In the late 19th century, when pharmaceutical production processes were manual and it took several people to produce a single vial of the drug. Today, the situation is somewhat different, ubiquitous automation has also entered the spheres of pharmacy, where robots and artificial intelligence systems perform 40-50 manufacturing jobs involving packaging, sorting and many other actions.
The benefits of automation in pharmaceuticals are numerous – production is accelerating, space for human error is reduced, the volume and mass ratios of elements in medicines are more precise than ever before, the packaging is more precise… Yet, despite all these good sides, many pharmaceutical companies have delayed the transition to automatic production mode for one obvious reason – one manufacturing error can ruin a production series that can consist of millions and millions of tablets or vials of medicines.
If the error is detected, there will be large economic losses where a single batch of production can cost millions and millions of dollars, euros, pounds, choose currency. If the error is not detected in time, there may be even worse consequences where defective medicines are placed in the health system, which may be a potential risk to consumption.
However, the pharmaceutical industry has increasingly concentrated on earnings in recent years, and the earnings generated by the hands cannot be measured against the one delivered by the automatic system. More and more pharmaceutical plants are switching to automatic production systems to recoup production costs and reduce them, while the risk from the previous paragraph is increasing. Automatic systems today are much more stable, more precise, alarms and alerts report any manufacturing error that can be removed immediately and are much more reliable.
In addition, automation provides great relief in logistics and paperwork. The delivery of medicines today is much easier because of automatic production series records, logistical errors can be much easier to notice and corrected, which allows the drugs to reach the people who need them most in the quickest way.
However, automation in this industry will never be able to completely replace man, but in the future it will be needed more than ever. The reason is simple – the beginning of the production of personalized medicines. Nowadays, all people with the same diagnoses are still given the same drugs regardless of differences in genetics, age, gender, disease level, etc. Personalized medicines have yet to reach their full potential, which will automatically provide systems for analyzing millions of individual genomes, medical records, family diseases, research on a particular type of disease in a short time and enable. This method of treatment could bring the biggest shift in the treatment of rare diseases where personalized access is more important than in some everyday diseases.
Pharmacy automation has a bright future, but still many companies are undecided about introducing them. Their concerns are the most common cost of implementation, the complexity of use and acceptance of staff. Nevertheless, such systems are cheaper and more affordable over time and are easier to use, making them more attractive to all pharmaceutical companies, regardless of their size.