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ARxIUM is a pharmacy solutions provider formed in early 2015 when Winnipeg, Manitoba-based Intelligent Hospital Systems Inc. (IH Systems) acquired AmerisourceBergen Technology Group (ABTG) in Buffalo Grove, Illinois.
Regarded as one of the most integrated pharmacy technology companies in the industry, ARxIUM delivers best-in-class technology, including industry-leading automation system hardware and workflow software solutions to help pharmacies enhance safety, efficiency and productivity. With the demand for pharmacy automation technology projected to grow a substantial 7 to 8 percent during the next five years, ARxIUM is well positioned to see upside gains.
“Pharmacy is a unique segment of the health care market in that it touches virtually everyone regardless of setting – inpatient, outpatient, long-term care and retail are all seeing growth in demand and sales,” said Dr. Niels Erik Hansen, president and CEO of ARxIUM.
“In order to meet demand, continue to grow and improve efficiency and productivity, pharmacies need to begin thinking like industrial manufacturing plants,” continues Dr. Hansen. “The ARxIUM product line is designed to help pharmacies do that by managing supply chain, inventory, workflow, production and delivery, regardless of size or setting.”
Eliminating error through automation
Although ARxIUM is less than a year old, its predecessor, IH Systems, dates back to 2006 and development of the groundbreaking automation technology it brought to market goes back even further.
Founded as a medical device company, IH Systems was built upon pioneering research conducted at St. Boniface Research Centre in Winnipeg in the 1990s to develop RIVA, a fully automated IV compounding system for syringes and IV bags. Commercialized in 2008, RIVA technology is fully compliant with international standards for pharmacy compounding and is proven to enhance the safety of compounded medications while also lowering the cost per dose.
“RIVA is the only fully automated compounding system for the preparation of IV medications on the market today,” explains Dr. Hansen. “Millions of syringes and IV bags are prepared manually in pharmacies every day and there is always the risk or error and contamination.”
As an example, Dr. Hansen points to the steps necessary to produce a single dose of Vancomycin. From writing and inputting the prescription, selecting the correct vials, measuring and mixing the compound, labeling the syringe and then administering it to the patient, there are a total of 42 process steps.
If a hospital uses just 24 doses of Vancomycin a day, that’s more than 1,000 process steps, which all must be performed correctly, every time. And that’s just one of the hundreds of different drugs a typical hospital pharmacy might compound every day in a syringe or IV bag. The risk, he says, is that errors such as using the wrong drug or wrong concentration can result in patient injury, emergency intervention, extended hospitalization or even death.
RIVA controls the entire process, scanning barcodes on vials to ensure the right drug is used, using a robot to move vials and syringes within a clean-air chamber, and weighing the compounds to make sure it contains the correct amount of each ingredient. The system can also compound chemotherapy medications, which can be harmful to pharmacy staff.
“RIVA is designed to eliminate errors and contamination, period,” Dr. Hansen says. “Every syringe and IV bag it produces is accurate, safe and clearly labeled.”
The first RIVA system was installed in a children’s hospital in Orange County, California, in December 2008. “Now we have RIVA systems all over North America and several countries overseas,” he says.
Total dose solution
In addition to RIVA, IH Systems also worked to pioneer what it calls a Total Dose Solution (TDS), an end-to-end workflow concept that can be customized for any pharmacy operation. As conceived, the TDS would encompass planning, scheduling, resource and production management, as well as the hardware and software needed to realize the most efficient and cost-effective pharmacy environment.
“We envisioned TDS as a means of transitioning a pharmacy operation into a lean enterprise, with increased efficiency, safety and productivity,” says Dr. Hansen.
In its quest to expand and offer the most complete pharmacy solutions possible, IH Systems began searching for a company whose products could help realize the Total Dose Solution concept.
“We started looking at other companies offering pharmacy information and system management, as well as automation systems that would complement RIVA and allow us to build out comprehensive solutions,” says Dr. Hansen. “We found the missing piece in AmerisoureBergen Technology Group.”
IH Systems acquired AmerisoureBergen Technology Group (ABTG) in March 2015, forming ARxIUM. Ed Van Humbeck, whose family acquired a controlling interest in IH Systems in 2014, said the combination of the two companies was something truly unique in the pharmacy technology market.
“This is a very important day for IH Systems and ABTG, but it’s even more important for pharmacy practitioners everywhere who are seeking safer, more efficient solutions,” said Van Humbeck in a press release following the acquisition. “The integration of these two companies will create something that is truly greater than the sum of its parts. We will provide a broad range of tools for pharmacies to vastly improve patient safety, operating cost and workflow efficiency.”
Under the ARxIUM banner, the TDS will be a lead offering, providing customers the opportunity to optimize operations while enjoying the convenience of working with a single-source vendor for all components.
Major market potential
Dr. Hansen says the growing market for pharmaceutical automation means major potential for ARxIUM and its newly integrated platform. As the company continues to integrate, it is working to make sure it understands its full value proposition for customers and can organize accordingly. While Hansen acknowledges the challenges, he also says the focus remains squarely on meeting customer needs.
“Our biggest effort right now is working with our distributors so they are able to effectively align our product offering and expertise with any customer setting and regulatory environment,” he says. “We’re very hands-on with this because it is essential for breaking into new markets and growing our market share where we already have a presence.”
With more than 250 employees and a growing network of distributors, the company is already well established in North America, parts of Australia and the Middle East. In coming years, ARxIUM has its sights set on entering rapidly growing markets in South America and China, while expanding its presence in Europe.
“The worldwide market for pharmacy automation is currently between $5 billion and $7 billion annually with substantial growth projected over the next five years,” says Dr. Hansen. “Right now, the market is fragmented and no single company has a very large market share. We believe the time is right for ARxIUM.” While still in infancy, ARxIUM is making great strides in pharmacy automation, efficiency and accuracy, delivering unsurpassed value to the marketplace.