UPS makes first drone deliveries of prescription drugs

UPS has made its first commercial drone deliveries, dropping off CVS prescriptions to consumers' homes. (UPS)

UPS has completed its first commercial drone deliveries of CVS prescriptions to consumers’ homes, as part of a partnership between the shipping giant and the drugstore chain to develop plans for drone delivery service.

UPS said the two flights by its drone subsidiary UPS Flight Forward were the first commercial drone deliveries of a medical prescription in the United States under a program approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The deliveries last Friday from a CVS store in Cary, North Carolina, went to a home and to a customer in a retirement community, via autonomous flights on a Matternet M2 drone system.

The drone hovered about 20 feet over properties and “slowly lowered the packages by a cable and winch to the ground,” according to UPS.

One of the customers has limited mobility that makes it difficult to travel to a store to pick up a prescription, according to the companies.

“This drone delivery, the first of its kind in the industry, demonstrates what’s possible for our customers who can’t easily make it into our stores,” said CVS Pharmacy president Kevin Hourican in a written statement. “CVS is exploring many types of delivery options for urban, suburban and rural markets. 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.”

UPS and CVS plan to continue developing the program in coming months.

Last month, Google sister company Wing Aviation in partnership with FedEx and Walgreens said it had conducted the nation’s first scheduled commercial residential delivery, in Christianburg, Virgina. Customers in that pilot program can order from Walgreens through Wing’s delivery app.

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