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Drones deliver prescription medicines for pharmacy for first time

Drone technology not only speeds up delivery times, but is also more environmentally friendly compared to traditional transportation.


July 27, 2022
By Ella Pickover
27 July 2022

Boots has become the first community pharmacy in the UK to deliver prescription medicines by drone.

The retailer shipped medicines from Thorney Island, near Portsmouth, to the Isle of Wight.

Boots says using the technology sped up delivery times whilst being more environmentally friendly compared to traditional transportation to the island, which involves a ferry and road vehicle.

Boots says the first drone flew from the British Army's Baker Barracks on Thorney Island and arrived at St Mary's Hospital in Newport on the Isle of Wight on July 4.

The medicines were collected and transported to Boots pharmacies across the island.

Earlier this month the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) announced it intends to use drones to ship chemotherapy drugs to the island in the English Channel as part of a pilot scheme - cutting transport time from four hours to 30 minutes.

It is hoped using drone technology will one day enable doctors to make same-day delivery orders for drugs and medical equipment from anywhere in the country.

Boots says it is now assessing the feasibility of using drones for deliveries.

It is working with medical-transportation company Apian to facilitate shipments.

Rich Corbridge, chief information officer at Boots, says: "Drones have huge potential in the delivery of medicines and it is incredibly exciting to be the first community pharmacy in the UK to transport them in this way.

"An island location like the Isle of Wight seemed like a sensible place to start a trial of drones, and their value to the delivery of medicines to more remote locations is very clear.

"In this trial, we will be looking at how much time we can save, as well as how we can incorporate drones into our medicines supply chain to create economic efficiencies too.

"We want to prepare now for the wider use of this technology in the future."

Max Coppin, chief operating officer at Apian, said: "Not only can drones deliver medicine to hospitals, but we are particularly excited about our partnership with Boots as it demonstrates drones can also help bring care closer to communities.

"Whilst faster and more reliable than ground transportation, they bring with them additional environmental benefits and offer a more sustainable solution for delivery."

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