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Rome Reports

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Vatican pharmacy transitions into robotics age

The smallest state in the world also has its own pharmacy. It was founded in 1874 to supply medication to popes and cardinals. Now it handles about 40,000 medical prescriptions, and more than 50 percent of its customers come from outside Vatican City.

The 1,000 square meters it covers are divided into various areas, including this large salesroom, storage rooms and offices.

Administrative Manager, Vatican Pharmacy

“The Vatican pharmacy was born as a service to the Vatican, for all the state's employees and residents. Over time, it expanded its reach and its customers, and it grew into what it is today, a completely remodeled pharmacy.”

It also sells cosmetics and personal care products, which make up an important source of revenue.

Installations have been remodeled during Pope Francis' pontificate. Its services are offered not only to employees and residents of Vatican City, but to all who need medication. Some of the drugs carried by the pharmacy are among the most difficult to find.

Administrative Manager, Vatican Pharmacy

“The pharmacy currently serves nearly 2,000 customers a day, distributing medication in Italy and other places. As a matter of fact, we also have a search service to acquire pharmaceuticals from all over the world. You could say this is our forte. We're able to obtain products that are very difficult to find.”

Since July 2019, after 145 years in existence, the Vatican pharmacy began an innovative automation process to more effectively supply and distribute its products.

Administrative Manager, Vatican Pharmacy

“The pharmacy is big, but before we didn't have all this available space. Wait times for customers were long, and the space was small. It seems like a coincidence, but this restructuring has helped us work during the Covid emergency. With more space available to customers, we can guarantee physical distancing and offer our service even during the emergency we're living.”

The Vatican pharmacy is run by the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God.

The majority of its 50 employees are laypeople. It's a large team that guarantees quality service in one of the most visited pharmacies in the world.

Daniel Díaz Vizzi
Translation: CT