UPS, CVS Partner to Deliver Pharmacy Items Via Drone

The two will begin deliveries in May to The Village, the largest retirement community in the US.

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Need to Know 

  • Flight Forward, UPS’ drone delivery service company, will begin delivering CVS pharmacy prescriptions in May.
  • Deliveries will service The Villages, the largest retirement community in the United States, located in Florida, housing over 135,000 residents.
  • The new service is in support of physical distancing efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • More supply chain companies and retailers are exploring drone delivery, though right now it is deemed too costly to widely invest in.

Analysis

As physical distancing requirements in order to control the COVID-19 outbreak continue, US pharmacy chain CVS has announced plans to work with UPS to help some senior citizens access their essential medications safely from home, with the use of delivery drones.

Flight Forward, the UPS drone-delivery subsidiary that the courier launched in July 2019, has partnered with CVS to deliver prescriptions to The Villages, a central Florida retirement community that is the largest of its kind in the United States. Deliveries are slated to begin this May.

In a press release announcing the partnership, Scott Price, UPS chief strategy and transformation officer, said that the partnership enables CVS to “provide safe and efficient deliveries of medicines to this large retirement community, enabling residents to receive medications without leaving their homes.”

“UPS is committed to playing its part in fighting the spread of Coronavirus, and this is another way we can support our healthcare customers and individuals with innovative solutions,” Price continued.

Flight Forward and CVS first announced their partnership in November 2019, successfully carrying out prescription deliveries from a pharmacy in North Carolina to residences in the area at that time.

The two companies are not the first to explore the drone-delivery space: Amazon Air, the drone wing of the eponymous e-commerce giant, applied for certification in July 2019, and Alphabet Wing, the drone division of Google parent company Alphabet, is currently operating in Canberra, Australia, and Finland, while awaiting approval to begin taking to the skies in the U.S.

It’s not the first step towards greater consumer-facing innovation for CVS, either: earlier this year, the pharmacy chain announced plans to expand its digital capabilities, with aims to become more customer-centric through a more robust digital presence, improved robotics, and the use of artificial intelligence.

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