Vending machines being filled with iPods, Rx

Vending machines have been important for cases of the munchies. But with bad press on junk food, especially in schools, the Wall Street Journal reported that the once ever-present machines — that take only the crispest of bills and serve up sugary and salty snacks — are going away. According to the publication, “Traditional vending machines disappeared from 134,000 locations between 2007 and 2010, according to the latest available data from Vending Times, an industry publication. Sales from vending machines sank more than 11%, to $42.2 billion, in the same period.”

That’s right: Traditional vending machines that sell candy bars, chips, and soda, are losing popularity. What’s on the rise instead: boutique operations. At the airport you can buy iPods, e-readers and cameras from Best Buy kiosks. Some new niche machines stock live bait in Pennsylvania and prescription drugs from InstyMeds has sold 1.5 million Rx in 24 states.

InstyMeds, which dispense antibiotics, inhalers and sometimes Powerful painkillers, have popped up at hospitals and clinics across the country, giving patients immediate, round-the-clock access to medications.

Instead of going to  pharmacies, patients enter a security code that details their prescriptions and insurance coverage. A quick swipe of a debit or credit card, and the machine dispenses the medication in a prepackaged, labeled container. According to the company’s website, InstyMeds offers the “safety and security of an ATM with the simplicity of a soda machine.”

“When you need an anti-diarrhea medication, you don’t want to wait an hour,” said InstyMeds CEO Brad Schraut. ‘If you’re sick, you’re in pain, you want that medication now.”

InstyMeds machines can hold up to 102 drugs for acute ailments, such as injuries and infections. They don’t dispense drugs for lingering conditions  such as  high-blood pressure or diabetes

The Last Vegas Sun has a slideshow that features some pretty crazy options in Sin City: From a luxury vendor called Utique that offers Smashbox makeup and Beats by Dre headphones, a cotton candy dispenser, an Art-o-Mat that sells original works of art, and of course, gold to go.

It’s not really a surprise that snack machines are dwindling in popularity, they typically charge about twice as much as a regular grocery store for products that are expired. If I wanted to pay 1.50 for a regular Snickers bar I’d go to Disneyworld. Also, I could not tell you how many times I got the wrong item at a vending machine. Imagine getting an Ipod shuffle instead of a touch. I hope those things are bullet proof cause that thing would get kicked in for sure.

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