A retirement community resident recently became part of history as one of the first people in the United States to receive a medical prescription by drone under a program approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The resident’s delivery, in North Carolina, was the second revenue-generating drone delivery of a medical prescription from a CVS pharmacy directly to a consumer’s home, CVS Health and UPS said in a Nov. 5 press release. The first delivery went to a home nearby, and both deliveries occurred Nov. 1, according to the companies.
“CVS is exploring many types of delivery options for urban, suburban and rural markets,” CVS Pharmacy President Kevin Hourican said in a statement. “We see big potential in drone delivery in rural communities, where life-saving medications are needed and consumers at times cannot conveniently access one of our stores.”
Indeed, CVS and UPS reported that one of the packages delivered Nov. 1 was to a CVS customer whose limited mobility makes it difficult to travel to a store to pick up a prescription.
The two flights involved UPS subsidiary UPS Flight Forward and CVS Health Corp. subsidiary CVS Pharmacy. They used the M2 drone system by UPS partner and drone systems developer Matternet.
CVS is the first retail partner exploring drone delivery with UPSFF, although UPSFF and Matternet already have been working with WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh, NC, where they have completed more than 1,500 revenue-generating drone deliveries since launching service there in March.
Although not providing details about the retirement community or resident, CVS and UPS said that the two Nov. 1 flights launched from a CVS store in Cary, NC, and flew to the delivery locations.
“The drones flew autonomously but were monitored by a remote operator who could intervene if necessary,” the companies reported. “The drone hovered about 20 feet over the properties and slowly lowered the packages by a cable and a winch to the ground.”
In September, UPSFF became the first company approved by the FAA to operate a drone airline under what is called a Part 135 Standard certification. The certification permits the company to collect payment for drone deliveries and to fly as many drones supported by as many operators as necessary to meet customer demand.
“Delivering prescriptions by drone directly to homes could greatly improve the patient experience for CVS customers,” Scott Price, UPS chief strategy and transformation officer, said in a statement. “We’re delighted to build new services that will shatter preconceived notions of how, when and where goods can be delivered.”