Secure, convenient returns

ICS helped this pharma-industry pioneer create a modern, user friendly system to speed accurate and compliant drug returns.

ICS Software Powers Pharmaceutical Returns

When pharmacies, hospitals and other institutions need to return unused medication to their distributors, they can’t just drop the pill bottles in the mail. Federal law prohibits that. Instead, they work with reverse distributors like this New York-based firm that launched the pharmaceutical-return industry in the 1980s.


The company’s service reps properly inventory, package and document the medication their clients wish to return, while complying with all applicable regulations. For decades, the company used a terminal-based application running on a notebook computer to track these returns. But the technology had grown stale.

The company wanted to upgrade to a modern solution capable of supporting both a touchscreen and a barcode reader. The new system would allow service reps to quickly look up products based on their National Drug Council (NDC) number, accurately enter product numbers while on site, produce the required paperwork, and deliver it to the company’s headquarters.


The ICS effort was two-pronged, as ICS was responsible for both the user experience (UX) design and the software development. To create an appealing user interface (UI) that supports speed and efficiency, the UX team worked closely with the customer. Together, they defined the new software and determined the various classes of users. The UX team analyzed that research before creating wireframes and screen mockups to describe the look and feel of the new software. Using Qt Desktop, the engineering team transformed the designs into a UI layer, at the same time developing backend functionality.

The new software allows reps to download the latest NDC product catalog, as well as client-appointment details. Reps also can quickly upload completed service call records; track how many cases, bottles and individual pills a client is returning; and generate custom reports.  


With the new touchscreen system, the company’s services reps are more efficient and able to handle more accounts than when using the legacy system. For instance, the touch-based UI, which accommodates stylus or keyboard and touchpad, minimizes paperwork by capturing customer signatures digitally. The new software and UI have proven so successful, ICS has released updated, enhanced versions annually since 2014.