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Roughly one month after receiving the United States government’s first full Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Part 135 Standard certification, which is required to operate a drone airline, Atlanta-based transportation and logistics bellwether UPS said today that, in a partnership with CVS Health Corporation, a subsidiary of CVS Pharmacy, it has competed the first revenue-generating drone delivery of a medical prescription from a CVS pharmacy directly to a consumer’s home on November 1.

UPS and CVS herald initial drone deliveries of prescription medicine

Roughly one month after receiving the United States government’s first full Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Part 135 Standard certification, which is required to operate a drone airline, Atlanta-based transportation and logistics bellwether UPS said today that, in a partnership with CVS Health Corporation, a subsidiary of CVS Pharmacy, it has competed the first revenue-generating drone delivery of a medical prescription from a CVS pharmacy directly to a consumer’s home on November 1.

In October, UPS and CVS said they agreed to develop a variety of drone delivery use cases, including business-to-consumer operating models. And they added that he program will include delivery of prescriptions and retail products to the homes of CVS Pharmacy customers from its retail stores, in addition to other potential use cases from its other business units.

Along with the drone delivery of a medical prescription from a CVS pharmacy to a consumer’s home on November 1, UPS and CVS also facilitated the delivery of a medical prescription to a second customer in a nearby retirement community on the same day.

Last month’s FAA certification followed a July announcement it made, when UPS formally launched its new drone subsidiary, UPS Flight Forward, a small drone delivery operation initially within the hospital network space. UPS said in July that this offering serves as a continuation of the partnership between UPS and drone startup Matternet operating special drone healthcare deliveries of medical samples under FAA Part 107 rules at Raleigh, N.C.-based WakeMed hospitals, transporting samples, blood, and other biologics from a lab to another building in the WakeMed network in the Raleigh area.

“We now have an opportunity to offer different drone delivery solutions, tailored to meet customer needs for speed and convenience,” said Scott Price, UPS chief strategy and transformation officer, in a statement. “Delivering prescriptions by drone directly to homes could greatly improve the patient experience for CVS customers. We’re delighted to build new services that will shatter preconceived notions of how, when and where goods can be delivered.”

When UPS initially launched UPS Flight Forward in July, a company spokesman told LM that its previous process for transporting samples, blood, and other biologics from a lab to another building in the WakeMed network in the Raleigh area was previously done by ground courier, which could take anywhere from 15-to-30 minutes or longer depending on traffic. But with drone transport, he said these deliveries can happen in minutes.

UPS said that UPS Flight Forward and Matternet have completed more than 1,500 revenue-generating drone deliveries, representing almost 8,000 samples, at the WakeMed Hospital since it kicked off service there in March 2019. And it added that the company is building out its ground infrastructure to enable expansion to other sectors over time.

“This is a really practical use of drones,” said the spokesman. “It is not like delivering ice cream to your doorstep. This is being done every day, and UPS is the only company in the U.S. flying revenue-generating drone flights.