Creating a Simulated Pharmacy

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The acquisition and use of pharmaceuticals in simulation is a common challenge for many institutions and simulation centers. There are 2 major avenues of obtaining medications, namely, via expired drugs donated by manufacturers or via purchasing simulated medication vials filled with inactive ingredients. Neither option is ideal to keep pace with busy simulation centers or to meet the specialized requirements of many educational programs. We describe an alternative solution through internal production of simulated drugs using readily available materials from laboratory suppliers.


Serum vials, stoppers, and flip off vial caps can be purchased in 2-, 5-, 10-, and 20-mL volumes. Vials can be filled with substances such as 0.9% NaCl or table salt to mimic a variety of available injectable drugs. Labels can be produced using the free online Web application, Simulated Online Pharmaceutical Image Editor (SOPHIE) and printed on glossy adhesive photo paper for application onto completed vials.


A wide range of simulated drugs, customized to the needs of each center, can be produced in an affordable and reliable manner. The appearance of the vials can be tailored for each program to meet educational objectives and enhance fidelity in simulation.


Low-cost production of simulated drug vials increases learning opportunities for participants to practice skills related to drug delivery and preparation. Further expansion can include nonintravenous drugs, code syringes, or reconstitution devices used for blood factors. Simulation centers should consider safety, availability, affordability, and fidelity concerns before integrating an in-house simulated pharmacy.

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