In a pharmaceuticals company, there are dozens of machines working on creating, dispensing, and bottling medications. Most of this process is automated in order to avoid contamination of the medications by human hands, and to avoid medications getting into people's bodies that would otherwise harm healthy individuals. As for liquid medications, you may be wondering how it is that these companies are able to dispense exactly the right dosage of medicine into every suspension, and every suspension into every bag or bottle. Here is how it is done.
Chemical Metering Pumps
While large vats of medicine in either powdered or liquid form exist, it is the liquid form that goes through a chemical metering pump, such as from Procom, and ends up packaged for sale on the far end. The powdered medicine has already been measured and weighed prior to being added to a liquid suspension. The suspension liquid may be water, watered down corn syrup, or a plant-based oil for easy digestion.
A metering pump (or several) may be attached to the vat containing the liquid medicine. As each IV bag or bottle passes by, the automated line stops. It pauses long enough to meter out the exact pre-programmed amount of fluid/liquid into whichever kind of container provided. (IV bags are typically used only for medications such as interferon, intravenous antibiotics, etc..)
This process continues until the vat is empty, until there is an order for several containers of medication, there is a need for greater dosage of medicine in the suspended liquid, or an entirely different batch of medicine is about to be processed through the vat and metering pumps. (Any time the medicine to be dispensed changes, the vat and metering pumps and attached hoses are scrubbed clean to prevent cross-contamination of medication.)
Programming the Metering Pumps
Because the medicine is already calculated and dispensed into the vat of suspension liquid (which is constantly stirred to keep medicine from becoming too much in part of the vat and not enough in the rest) it becomes the sole responsibility of the metering pumps to dispense exactly the right number of doses into each container. Human employees are assigned the task of setting and programming the metering pumps for each new batch of medicine. The company supervisors hand employees charts as guides for the day's pump programs. The employees attend to the pumps as soon as the shift starts to make sure the pumps are ready to go.
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