Medicine kits should be available to dealership employees with colds, headaches, indigestion and such.

But often those kits become "grab boxes," says Fred Shear, president of Synergy Management in Metairie, LA.

He explains, "Employees shouldn't be able to help themselves to all the over-the-counter medications they want.

"For one thing, it can cost a dealership a lot of money if people are taking the medication home to stock their medicine cabinets.

"For another thing, there's the possibility of an employee ingesting too much medication. And that can be a real hazard if an overdosed employee is a service technician who's working on vehicles."

Mr. Shear thinks he has a cure for that. It's a Fast-Aid medicine dispensing machine. He's marketing it to dealerships and other businesses.

The controlled-access machine can be set to dispense individual packets of medicine by inserting either a coin or a token.

He says one dealer, who had a conventional medicine kit easily accessible to all employees, yanked it out because it was costing him $200 a week to stock it.

"That's counter-productive because if an employee has a headache or stomach ache, and there's no medicine available at the dealership, the option is for the employee to go home," says Mr. Shear.

Instead, he says a controlled-access dispensing machine allows a dealership to keep costs down while also increasing productivity and reducing liabilities.

Such dispensing machines also can be installed in dealership service department waiting rooms. "Because if a customer gets a higher repair bill than he expected, he may need an aspirin," says Mr. Shear.