Amazon will begin delivering prescriptions for some Texas-based customers by drone, according to an announcement on Wednesday, becoming the latest company to test drone deliveries for medications as Amazon expands its drone delivery service.
Customers in College Station, Texas, will receive their medications within an hour of placing their order with Amazon Pharmacy, the company announced Wednesday.
Amazon said College Station residents will be able to request more than 500 medications—including treatment for the flu, asthma and pneumonia, among others—as part of the drone delivery service.
Amazon’s drones—which fly at an altitude of up to nearly 400 feet—will check to see whether the delivery zone is clear of pets, children or other obstacles before dropping the package off, the company said.
Amazon Pharmacy’s drone delivery service is expected to expand to other markets, according to Amazon, which noted it has no time frame for expansion.
Shares for Amazon fell slightly (1.2%) to $129.80 in early trading on Wednesday.
Other companies have tested delivering prescriptions via drone in recent years. In a joint statement, UPS announced in 2020 that it would use drones to deliver prescriptions for CVS Health locations in The Villages, Florida, after both companies “successfully” completed their first drone deliveries in Cary, North Carolina, in 2019. That delivery service has since ended, a CVS spokesperson told the Associated Press. Intermountain Healthcare announced last year that it would begin delivering prescriptions in Salt Lake and Utah counties in Utah. The company told the Associated Press that it is continuing to expand the delivery service through Zipline, a logistics company that uses drones to drop packages by parachute. Walmart announced earlier this year that it was expanding its own drone delivery service to Dallas, though it does not provide delivery for prescriptions.
Amazon launched deliveries through Prime Air—the company’s drone delivery service—for customers in Lockeford, California, last year in an effort to deliver items “quickly” and “cost-effectively.” The launch follows comments by chief executive Jeff Bezos in 2013, after Bezos said he expected “Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road.” Bezos noted that he expected the expansion to take “some number of years,” pending approval and possible regulation by the FAA. The agency approved Amazon’s request for a drone delivery fleet in 2020. Some Lockeford and College Station residents have previously expressed concerns about the drone delivery service, though an Amazon spokesperson told Insider that “safety is our top priority.”