Third time’s the charm

Five years ago, in 2012, Evgeny Katkov went to buy some medications at a pharmacy in Kouvola, Finland with his Russian guests. Mr Katkov had previously worked as a doctor, and the medicine storage robot behind the customer service counter caught his attention. It was love at first sight.

“I had never seen a robot like that in Russia, and I instantly knew there was potential for business in there,” Mr Katkov explains.

At the pharmacy owner’s recommendation, Mr Katkov soon contacted NewIcon and offered to handle distribution in Russia. Soon he set up his distributing company called Erja OOO that also takes care of the service and maintenance of the NewIcon automation devices.

“It was a difficult start. In the first five years, we only managed to sell two medicine storage robots, one to Moscow and the other to St Petersburg,” says Mr Katkov.

The trade between Finland and Russia had recently dried up, and the robot also seemed to be over budget for the Russians. The payback period was too long and the investment did not seem to be profitable. One of the reasons was the low salary of the pharmacists in the country.

Sale to a large pharmacy chain

After five difficult years, Mr Katkov’s persistent work and confidence in NewIcon’s automation devices has started to pay off. The sale of the third medicine storage robot was closed in late March 2017. The buyer was a large pharmacy chain with 83 pharmacies in St Petersburg.

“Image plays a very important role in Russia. Companies in Russia spend much more money on interior design, including architecture and art, than they do in Finland. The initial cost of the robot was small compared to the positive effects a modern image has,” Katkov is pleased to say.

The fully automatic Iso-Fixu medicine storage robot will be delivered to a pharmacy along the main street of St Petersburg, Nevsky Prospect. It is the flagship pharmacy of the chain, located on the same street with dozens of competing pharmacies.

“Another decisive feature was the collection speed of the Iso-Fixu, making it possible to serve the customers faster. If a pharmacy is crowded, customers simply turn on their heels and go to the next one. The silent operation of the robot was also important: The pharmacy is located in a block of flats, and NewIcon had to prove that the robot does not make any noise that would disturb the residents.”

Hospital automation

Mr Katkov and his team of four have also worked to sell our products to Russian hospitals. He believes that persistent work to introduce and demonstrate the functions of the products will yield results. Thanks to his previous career as a doctor, he knows that the automation devices NewIcon has developed for comprehensive pharmacy services would benefit Russian hospitals.

“An automatic medicine dispenser and a smart medicine cabinet for instance would significantly improve patient safety. I remember being a medical student and taking part in distributing medications in the wards. It was a slow and tedious task that required a lot of concentration, and it is one that could be made a lot easier and more effective using automation.”

“The fact that NewIcon offers automation devices to cover the whole chain of pharmaceutical services from the hospital pharmacy all the way to the ward is a clear advantage and makes the company stand out from the competition,” Mr Katkov comments.

This is also the reason why his love for the products has persisted.

More information

Evgeny Katkov
Founder, Erja OOO, and Managing Director, Katkal Oy


Mr Katkov has lived in Finland since 1991. Before that, he worked as an anaesthetist in Russia for 13 years. His company Katkal Oy has worked in exports for more than 20 years. In 2012, Mr Katkov started his retail company Erja OOO. Katkal Oy is one of NewIcon’s owners.


Try, and try again


Read more about our products:

Automated dispensing system for hospital pharmacies: Download Mega-Fixu brochure

Automated dispensing cabinet for hospitals: Download eMED ICON brochure

Antibiotics compounding system for hospitals: Download IV ICON Twins brochure

Automated dispensing system for retail pharmacies: Download Iso-Fixu brochure


The article was originally published in the Icon News magazine in 2017.



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