Pharmacy to begin drone transport of medications to Villages residents

UPS’ Flight Forward service is partnering with CVS Health to use Matternet’s M2 drone system to deliver medications to The Villages from a CVS pharmacy.

Soon, all it may take is a drone to get prescription medicines to your doorstep.

UPS announced Monday that its UPS Flight Forward service, in partnership with CVS Health, will use drones to deliver medications to The Villages from a CVS pharmacy.

The service will begin in early May, in cooperation with the Federal Aviation Administration, UPS said in a statement.

CVS has been working with UPS over the last year to test drone delivery of prescription drugs, said CVS spokeswoman Stephanie Cunha.

Initial deliveries will be made at CVS stores in The Villages then flown for about a half-mile to a centralized location, where they will be assembled and delivered to homes, Cunha said.

“The Villages felt like a great place to test this,” Cunha said. “This is just a test in one of our markets, and this felt like the right market for us.”

Drone transport reduces the need for Villagers to go to a pharmacy to pick up medicines, in a time where many businesses are encouraging social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

It also is a fast and convenient delivery option, especially for medicines that are time-sensitive, according to UPS.

The UPS Flight Forward program will use Matternet’s M2 drone system. Matternet stated its M2 drones are capable of carrying 5 pounds over a 12.5-mile distance.

The program is certified by the FAA to operate beyond the visual line of sight of the remote pilot and visual observers participating in the drone’s operation.

UPS and CVS announced their plans to explore drone deliveries last year, and completed a successful prescription delivery November 2019 from a CVS pharmacy in North Carolina.

The partnership will allow CVS to test ways of getting items to its customers in a faster and more convenient way, Cunha said.

Both CVS and UPS expect a phased approach. The first drone will launch in early May and will fly less than a half mile to a central location where a driver will complete the delivery.

The end goal is for a drone to deliver the item directly to a resident’s doorstep, Peterson said.

While Villagers haven’t yet seen deliveries from UPS Flight Forward, they’re open to the idea.

Gail Orr, a retired pharmacist who serves as president of The Villages Pharmaceutical Club, said she would have medicine delivered to her house if it meant keeping people safe.

She hasn’t had medicine delivered yet — as a retired pharmacist, she prefers the experience of bonding with other pharmacists. But she plans to try it in the future.

“This might work out very well,” said Orr, of the Village De La Vista. “We’re going to become a society that depends on delivery services, for a while. Whatever keeps us safe is a good thing.”