October 21, 2019 / 8:18 PM / a month ago

REFILE-Drugstore drones: UPS will fly CVS prescriptions to customers

(Corrects typographical error in headline)

By Lisa Baertlein

LOS ANGELES, Oct 21 (Reuters) - United Parcel Service Inc's new Flight Forward drone unit will soon start home prescription delivery from CVS Health Corp.

The service, which will debut in one or two U.S. cities in the coming weeks, shows how the world's biggest parcel delivery company is expanding the reach of its upstart drone delivery service beyond hospital campuses.

UPS Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer Scott Price said the Atlanta-based company, which owns 251 aircraft and charters nearly 300 more, said "Flight Forward will work with new customers in other industries to design additional solutions for a wide array of last-mile and urgent delivery challenges."

UPS this month won the U.S. government's first approval to operate a drone airline, taking a lead over rivals like Amazon.com Inc and Alphabet Inc's Wing.

Regulators are still hammering out rules for how the unmanned winged vehicles will operate in U.S. airspace and guidelines are expected in 2021.

On Monday, Flight Forward and partner Matternet also announced a deal to deliver biological samples and other cargo on University of Utah Health hospital campuses. That program is similar to the program at WakeMed Hospital in North Carolina, Flight Forward's first client.

Flight Forward has also inked a hospital campus deal with healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente, UPS said.

In addition, the company said pharmaceutical distributor AmerisourceBergen Corp will use Flight Forward drones to move pharmaceuticals, supplies and records select U.S. medical campuses it serves.

UPS rival FedEx Corp last week delivered a residential package to a home in Christiansburg, Virginia, as part of a trial service with Alphabet's Wing Aviation.

Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by David Gregorio

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