Drugs by drone: Amazon starts airborne prescription deliveries

On October 18, Amazon announced that its “Amazon Pharmacy” business opened a drone drug delivery service in College Station, Texas.

Customers in their local area can get prescription drugs delivered to their homes by Amazon’s unmanned delivery service within an hour of placing an order.

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Free drone delivery 60 minutes after order placement

Customers can choose “free drone delivery in less than 60 minutes” at the checkout, after which the pharmacist will ensure that the medicine is packed and delivered to the customer’s home within the next hour.

In terms of drug types, local residents can choose from more than 500 medicines to treat common diseases such as influenza, asthma and pneumonia.

24/7 hybrid primary care

In addition, customers in need of emergency medical services can also access Amazon Clinic, Amazon’s 24/7 virtual medical online service, which claims to provide 24/7 prescriptions for 35 diseases. It’s a hybrid “virtual” and “face-to-face” primary care service that officials say combines “Amazon clinics” with rapid drug delivery to improve treatment outcomes without leaving home.

“We’re taught from the first days of medical school that there is a golden window that matters in clinical medicine,” said Dr. Vin Gupta, chief medical officer of Amazon Pharmacy.

“That’s the time between when a patient feels unwell and when they’re able to get treatment. We’re working hard at Amazon to dramatically narrow the golden window from diagnosis to treatment, and drone delivery marks a significant step forward. Whether it’s an infectious disease or respiratory illness, early intervention can be critical to improving patient outcomes.”

“Air carrier” title officially awarded

Amazon began delivering packages by drone in parts of California and Texas late last year. Amazon has previously received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to begin drone delivery trials, and has been awarded the title of “air carrier” by the authorities.

Similar to the traditional Amazon delivery service, after purchasing products that qualify for Amazon Prime Air, users will receive tracking information and estimated delivery time of the order. It’s just that the product was delivered by drone.

“For decades, the customer experience has been to drive to a pharmacy with limited operating hours, stand in line, and have a public conversation about your health situation, or to wait five-to-10 days for traditional mail-order delivery,” said John Love, vice president of Amazon Pharmacy.And due to inconvenience and high drug costs, 30 to 50 percent of Americans forgo taking health-improving drugs.“Our drones fly over traffic, eliminating the excess time a customer’s package might spend in transit on the road,” said Calsee Hendrickson, director of product and program management at Prime Air. “That’s the beauty of drone delivery, and medications were the first thing our customers said they also want delivered quickly via drone. Speed and convenience top the wish list for health purchases.”


Ivy Wu

Ivy Wu was a media reporter at btw media. She graduated from Korea University with a major in media and communication, and has rich experience in reporting and news writing.

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