CVS, UPS join forces on drone delivery

CVS Health is joining forces with UPS to test several different applications for drone delivery, including sending certain products directly to patients.

UPS' Flight Forward program earned the first certification by the U.S. government to operate a drone airline earlier this month, and since then it's built out its infrastructure and capabilities. Under the partnership with CVS, UPS drones will deliver prescriptions and retail products to patient's homes, the companies announced Monday.

“We’re always looking to improve convenience for customers through faster, lower-cost and more efficient delivery models,” Kevin Hourican, president of CVS Pharmacy, said in the announcement. “Given our focus on innovation, we’re excited to be the first retail health care company to explore drone delivery options with UPS.”

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UPS has already been working on WakeMed Health & Hospitals' campus in Raleigh, North Carolina, to deliver medical samples. UPS said in the announcement it's made 1,500 revenue-generating deliveries via drone at WakeMed since March of this year.

“We will create new logistics and delivery solutions no one has ever considered," Scott Price, UPS chief strategy and transformation officer, said in the announcement. "Previous industry thinking had been limited to only ground transportation technology. Now we’re thinking in three dimensions.”

This is the second announcement in home delivery over the past few months from CVS. The healthcare giant announced in August that it would be taking its home drug delivery service nationwide. In its CarePass program, CVS Pharmacy customers can pay either $5 per month or $48 per year to receive one- to two-day delivery on eligible drugs.

The home drug delivery space is shaping up to be a competitive one, as Amazon—which is in the process of launching its healthcare firm Haven along with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase—owns online pharmacy PillPack and its nationwide pharmaceutical distribution network