Building the pharmacy of the future
Team Zipline
November 17, 2021

How Zipline’s partnership with Cardinal Health will improve access & community health

Today’s pharmacies are overrun by an influx of patients looking for COVID-19 testing, COVID-19 vaccines, boosters, flu shots, you name it. All of a sudden, going on the hunt for something as simple as bandaids or ibuprofen may turn into a frustratingly long wait time, surrounded by fellow customers who may be contagious.

The pharmacy experience may be worsened by the impending cold and flu season — one that could be severe as COVID-19 safety measures like masking and social distancing lift. The numbers show that consumers are already feeling the effects, or bracing for the worst. In fact, companies like P&G and Reckitt have reported spiking sales for their cold and flu medications this year; Reckitt says its over-the-counter sales rose 20% last quarter, driven primarily by products like Mucinex. As the season peaks, pharmacies are likely to face increased challenges keeping their shelves stocked.

This week, Zipline and Cardinal Health announced they’re tackling this challenge head-on with automated, on-demand deliveries to pharmacy locations.

Beginning soon, employees at retail pharmacies in North Carolina will be able to place orders for medications and supplies that they need in real-time, and receive them in just 15–30 minutes via Zipline’s autonomous aircraft. This service will begin with select locations and over-the-counter products, but could be expanded to encompass nearly any pharmacy product that falls within Zipline’s four-pound payload.

We believe it will bring a number of important benefits to pharmacies and patients alike:

For Patients: No more pharmacy stock-outs means patients can always access the medications they need, as soon as they need them. This contributes to better health outcomes and, ultimately, healthier communities, particularly at a time like cold and flu season.

For Pharmacies: Automated, on-demand delivery enables pharmacy locations to replenish medications the moment they run out. There’s no need to wait for a weekly shipment, or further clog the streets with a delivery van for a box of cold medicine. With Zipline, pharmacies can avoid out-of-stocks for even the most in-demand medications, during even the busiest seasons, so they’re always equipped to serve their customers.

It’s a new approach to pharmacy supply management, powered by the instant logistics infrastructure we’ve spent five years building and proving. With on-demand access, we can help build more agile, resilient supply chains that enable anyone to access the supplies they need, regardless of where they live.

For more details on our upcoming work together, you can view the announcement here.