Rideshare giant Uber is trying to crack the prescription drug delivery market.
Uber Health, the company's nonemergency medical transportation service, announced Thursday a partnership with NimbleRx to offer online prescription ordering and drug delivery direct to consumers in Seattle and Dallas.
The companies plan to expand the service to other parts of the country in the coming months.
The service, which is fully integrated with Uber’s platform, is currently live throughout the Seattle and Dallas metro areas.
Nimble has completed over 15,000 deliveries via the partnership with Uber Health since the pilot launched earlier this summer.
With the current health crisis and ongoing social distancing guidelines in place, it is more critical than ever for people to receive their prescriptions directly and efficiently, according to a press release from the companies.
"Given the current crisis, having to pick up prescriptions from your local pharmacy can be an unnecessary and sometimes risky barrier to care," said Dan Trigub, head of Uber Health, in a statement.
"Our partnership with Nimble marks Uber Health's expansion into pharmaceutical delivery, and allows us to support the effective and timely delivery of medications to those who need it most."
Nimble works with more than 700 pharmacies in 34 states, which gives the partnership scale to grow.
The startup is a two-sided marketplace that works directly with independent and regional pharmacies to utilize its delivery platform and offers consumers a simplified pharmacy experience through multiple online delivery options, the company said.
Uber Health’s direct integration with the Nimble platform is providing consumers with an additional option to quickly receive their prescription deliveries without needing to leave their homes.
“Around 70% of doctor visits end with a prescription, and with an increase in telemedicine over the last several months as well as a fundamentally larger acceptance of online healthcare, we’ve seen this number increase further,” said Talha Sattar, founder and CEO of Nimble, in a press release.
“Now more than ever, it is critical that patients have easy and swift access to their medications. Our partnership with Uber Health will allow Nimble to increase our capacity to serve our customers, and more efficiently deliver the prescriptions people need to address their health conditions.”
Currently, Nimble offers next-day delivery to 70% of the population of the U.S. and same-day delivery to 30%.
As delivery demand has increased in COVID-19 hot spots around the country, Nimble has seen demand increase from retail pharmacies nationwide, partly due to increased requests from the senior population, the company said.
Uber launched Uber Health, its healthcare arm, in March 2018, and the business has grown 300% year over year since it rolled out, the company reported back in March.
In October, while speaking at CB Insights' Future of Health conference in Manhattan, Trigub hinted that the company was looking to expand its services beyond just offering people rides to medical appointments.
Uber sees the nonemergency medical transportation market as a $15 billion opportunity in the U.S. "We haven’t even touched on meal delivery, pharma delivery, those are all things we're thinking about," Trigub said during the conference.
Access to care is more than getting to and from doctor appointments, Trigub wrote in a blog post.
"Healthcare is broad, complex, and ripe for change, and inefficiencies stand to affect patients and organizations alike. The percentage of first-time prescriptions abandoned by patients (and thus not picked up at pharmacies), can range as high as 30%," he wrote.
In response to the growing demand, Nimble implemented several changes to its technology including the enablement of delivery for those without a mobile phone, who make up approximately 11% of customers, as well as adding additional and faster delivery windows.
The home drug delivery space is shaping up to be a competitive one, as Amazon owns online pharmacy PillPack and its nationwide pharmaceutical distribution network. International trademark filings suggest Amazon will eventually take its pharmacy business global.
CVS and Walgreens continue to invest in prescription home delivery. CVS Health, which began testing drone delivery last year, is now piloting the use of self-driving vehicles for prescription delivery in the Houston market.
Other groups, such as UPS, have also been testing home delivery for pharmaceutical products, like vaccines.
Digital pharmacy startups like Alto Pharmacy, NowRx and Medly Pharmacy also are taking on industry giants and are securing sizable sums of money from investors.