UPS delivers pharmacy prescriptions by drone

November 11, 2019

The U.S. healthcare system is being pushed towards a less costly, more efficient model and the debate about how to do it continues to be in the spotlight of the 2020 election campaign.

One area where hospitals and insurers see savings is in healthcare logistics, which refers to the distribution of supplies and consumables to hospitals, doctors, and pharmacies. It also includes the just-in-time delivery of temperature-sensitive drugs, biologics, and organs and tissues used in transplants.

Among the biggest players in this field are shipping companies like UPS. UPS is the world’s largest package delivery company, with a market capitalization of US$87.6 billion. It operates in 220 countries and territories and employs 481,000 people. Its operations include a cargo airline, freight-based trucking, and 5,000 franchised UPS stores.  

UPS has been testing the use of unmanned drones to deliver medical supplies to remote places and also between hospitals in North Carolina.

It is expanding that initiative. Two weeks after unveiling a partnership to explore drone shipments of drugs with CVS Health Corp., the companies have completed the first commercial medical prescription drone delivery in the US under a Federal Aviation Administration-approved program.

A drone finished two short, autonomous flights to customers’ homes near a CVS store in Cary, North Carolina. The prescriptions were lowered via a cable while the drone hovered about 20 feet about each address.

UPS said one of the packages was delivered to a customer with limited mobility, which makes it difficult for them to make the trip to a nearby store. A UPS drone operator who was on hand to take over the flights if needed. 

The Raleigh News & Observer captured the flight with a video.

UPS is combining its traditional competency with new technologies to give it an edge. These initiatives show how it is adapting to new technologies to maintain its dominance.

UPS is a component of the Harvest Brand Leaders Plus Income ETF (TSX: HBF, HBF.U).

As of Oct. 31, 2019, the actively managed fund held 20 global brand leaders who are the dividend elite, with an average portfolio dividend yield of 2.00% and a current distribution yield of 6.93%. Distributions are paid monthly and are payable as cash or through a Distribution Reinvestment Plan (DRIP). The ETF’s management fee is 0.75.

Many of the companies involved in creating logistics and transportation software for companies like UPS can also be found in the Harvest Tech  Achievers Growth & Income ETF (TSX: HTA)

For more information about Harvest ETFs and Harvest Portfolios Group Inc., please visit

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