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UPS, CVS Partner To Deliver Drugs By Drone

United Parcel Service has signed a number of agreements to develop drone deliveries of healthcare and other products, including a recent one with CVS Health Corp.

Under that new deal, UPS will evaluate drone delivery of products, including prescription medicines, from CVS to the homes of its customers.


The deals are the first by UPS since it won approval from the Federal Aviation Administration in September to operate a commercial drone airline, The Wall Street Journal reports. The approval permits the company to fly as many drones, supported by as many operators, as necessary to meet customer demand.  

UPS calls its drone division Flight Forward. The company is still working with the FAA on possible locations for the program, Fast Company reports.

Previously, UPS won a more limited approval to use drones to deliver lab and blood samples between WakeMed hospitals, clinics and doctors' offices in Raleigh and Wake County, North Carolina. The company has completed more than 1,500 revenue-generating drone deliveries for WakeMed since March. 

Now, according to UPS, it will expand its drone delivery service further to support other hospital campuses. 

UPS also recently made a separate deal with healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente. The pilot program will explore ways UPS Flight Forward could help transport healthcare supplies between buildings at Kaiser Permanente medical campuses in its 39-hospital network.

“We move millions of supplies and equipment in and around our 75M SF of medical space and to the homes of our 12.4 million members,” Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Bernard Tyson said in a statement. “This drone project will allow us to think about additional possibilities of perfecting logistics.”

UPS said it will eventually provide service for customers in other industries, transporting a variety of items and regularly flying drones beyond the operators’ visual line of sight. 

UPS isn't alone in its plans for retail drones. Wing, a subsidiary of Google parent company Alphabet, has made deliveries for FedEx in Christianburg, Virginia, under a pilot program authorized by the FAA, Freight Waves reports.

Earlier this month, FedEx Express used a Wing-operated drone instead of a truck for last-mile residential deliveries for retailer Walgreens.