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Pharmacy automation market entering boom times as Uber and Amazon get in on the act

Joseph Walker

Jos Walker

Marketing Communications

Jos has over 10 years' experience in B2B marketing, mostly for blue-chip industrial automation companies like Emerson and General Electric. He started working with IA in 2019, and handles a variety of PR and marketing communications-related activities.


  • Big pharmacy chains such as Walgreens driving investment in the US
  • Market expansion also predicted for EMEA and APAC, but with different drivers
  • Pouch packaging machines set to dominate; vertical carousels to maintain significant share; AS/RS kiosks to gain share

Using automated machinery in the prescription-filling process, and in other medication-dispensing applications has been established practice for some years, but market intelligence company Interact Analysis’s newly launched report on pharmacy automation forecasts a period of significant growth up to 2024 and identifies specific factors which are driving this growth


The market for pharmacy automation equipment has been healthy for years, seeing persistent double-digit growth in the decade up to 2019, when global revenues rose to $1.7bn. This figure is set to rise to $2.8bn by 2024, growing with a CAGR of 10.2%.


The drivers for growth vary across the globe. The US, where Omnicell accounts for 12.9% of the global market for pharmacy automation solutions, is the largest single country market for automated dispensing machines. The high cost of healthcare and the large number of private hospitals are a major market driver, with inpatient hospital pharmacies forming the largest userbase. Demand from the chain-dominated retail userbase is also predicted to expand, with Walgreens recently making a significant investment in automation technology.


In EMEA, where most retail pharmacies are independently owned and where BD Rowa is currently the largest pharmacy automation company in the world, with a 13.9% global share, demand continues to be high – currently running at 11% CAGR, and legislative easing relating to central distribution pharmacies, particularly in the UK, is creating demand.


Meanwhile, in APAC the Japanese pharmaceutical automation company Yuyama comes in 3rd place in the global rankings, with an 11.1% share. The regional market depends largely on sales of automated equipment to outpatient pharmacies in hospitals, but policy changes in China, separating medication dispensing from the prescription process look set to stimulate the growth of the retail pharmacy sector in the region, which will also be turning to automated solutions.


Where different categories of automated machinery are concerned, pouch packaging machines will continue to bring in the highest revenue globally – this is a result of the high unit price of these machines due to their complex technology, rather than high unit sales. Vertical carousels continue to be the preferred solution for managing inventory in hospitals, but the much more automated robotic AS/RS kiosks are gaining share not only in hospital settings, but also, in Europe, in retail pharmacies. They are additionally beginning to appear in Japan. Countable machines continue to be popular in the US but may see revenue slightly reduced owing to competition from pouch packaging equipment.


Blake Griffin, senior analyst at Interact Analysis comments: “We anticipate a period of sustained growth in the pharmacy automation sector. One major boost is the arrival on the scene of big tech companies such as Amazon and Uber. In the US, Amazon, with their purchase of Pillpack, and Uber, with their partnership with NimbleRx could herald a revolution in central-fill mail-order medication distribution, boosting demand for automation, and this could spread to other parts of the globe.


“Additionally, in the US, this brings the added potential of reaching out to a previously untapped segment of the population, the uninsured and the under-insured, thereby increasing demand for pharmaceuticals, and the automated machinery to dispense them.”


Pharmacy Automation Equipment


About the report


Whilst Interact Analysis’s market intelligence remit covers a multitude of different product markets, this report constitutes their first dedicated analysis of the automation market in the pharmaceuticals sector. It was triggered during the company’s research work on the warehouse automation sector, when analysts began to notice partnerships forming between major warehouse automation solutions suppliers and suppliers of automated dispensing machines, such as those featuring in this report. Further investigation revealed a significant trend of investment in pharmacy automation. As the partnerships involved several of Interact Analysis’s existing clients, the company was uniquely positioned to be able to give an in-depth report offering insights and analysis at a deeper level than other research companies.


The report comprises two excel deliverables and a 100-page PDF document. The excel deliverables offer granular data on the market size of every machinery type covered in the report and data on the global competitive environment, specifically the market shares of the suppliers. To learn more, visit


About Interact Analysis


Interact Analysis is an international provider of market research for the Intelligent Automation sector. Our team of experienced industry analysts delivers research into three core sectors: industrial automation, robotics and warehouse automation, and commercial vehicles. Intelligent Automation – which is the integration of artificial intelligence and automation – will change virtually every industry imaginable. This combination enables greater efficiencies, productivity, convenience, and scale. It has the potential to drastically alter the outlook for many traditional industries such as manufacturing, healthcare and automotive as well as to lead to the emergence of entirely new industries.

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