Amazon Pharmacy customers have a new way to get the medications they need quickly and affordably. Customers in College Station, Texas, can now get their prescription medications dropped outside their door via Amazon’s drone delivery service within 60 minutes of placing their order—at no additional cost. Eligible Amazon Pharmacy customers can select “free drone delivery in less than 60 minutes” at checkout. A pharmacist will then ensure medications are loaded and transported to a customer’s home within the next hour. College Station residents selecting drone delivery will have access to more than 500 medications that treat common conditions, including flu, asthma, and pneumonia.
Amazon Pharmacy customers with an urgent health care condition can also access Amazon Clinic—which offers virtual, 24/7 treatment for 35 conditions, including a newly launched cold and flu condition—or One Medical, a hybrid virtual and in-person primary care offering. Rapid access to care, paired with fast medication delivery, can improve treatment outcomes, while allowing the customer to stay in the comfort of their home.
“We’re taught from the first days of medical school that there is a golden window that matters in clinical medicine,” said Dr. Vin Gupta, chief medical officer of Amazon Pharmacy. “That’s the time between when a patient feels unwell and when they’re able to get treatment. We’re working hard at Amazon to dramatically narrow the golden window from diagnosis to treatment, and drone delivery marks a significant step forward. Whether it’s an infectious disease or respiratory illness, early intervention can be critical to improving patient outcomes.”
How Amazon drone delivery works
Amazon’s drones fly at an altitude of 40 to 120 meters—an airspace with minimal obstacles. The drone’s built-in sense-and-avoid technology uses sensors and cameras to navigate around people, pets, and power lines.
Cameras on the drone feed into a neural network trained to identify objects. On arrival at the customer’s home, the drone slowly and safely lowers itself above a delivery marker. Computer vision will detect any structures or objects protruding from the ground—including people and animals—and check if they are interfering with the descent path. When the delivery zone is clear, the drone releases the package, rises back up to altitude, and returns to the delivery center. Customers pick up packages without any interaction with the drone.
Amazon is one of only a handful of drone delivery companies to earn a Federal Aviation Administration air carrier certificate required to operate drones with advanced capabilities. Amazon’s drones have safely delivered hundreds of household items in College Station since December 2022.
“Our drones fly over traffic, eliminating the excess time a customer’s package might spend in transit on the road,” said Calsee Hendrickson, director of product and program management at Prime Air. “That’s the beauty of drone delivery, and medications were the first thing our customers said they also want delivered quickly via drone. Speed and convenience top the wish list for health purchases.”
A full-service pharmacy that delivers convenience
Amazon Pharmacy, a full-service pharmacy available on Amazon.com, offers fast delivery when you need it most. Prime members receive free two-day delivery on their first order of a medication, with the option to set up automatic monthly deliveries for medication refills. For acute health needs, Amazon Pharmacy currently offers Same-Day Delivery in Austin, Indianapolis, Miami, Phoenix, and Seattle. Amazon Pharmacy customers have 24/7 access to a pharmacist to discuss questions about their medications.
“For decades, the customer experience has been to drive to a pharmacy with limited operating hours, stand in line, and have a public conversation about your health situation, or to wait five-to-10 days for traditional mail-order delivery,” said John Love, vice president of Amazon Pharmacy. “With Amazon Pharmacy, you can quickly get the medications you need—whether by drone or standard delivery—without having to miss soccer practice or leave work early.”
Since its launch in late 2020, Amazon Pharmacy has focused on removing the hurdles that prevent customers from getting the care they need—including RxPass, which offers $5-per-month access to more than 50 generic medications, and automatic manufacturer-sponsored coupons that deliver instant savings on brand-name medications. Between 30 and 50% of Americans forego taking medications that would improve their health due to inconvenience and high drug costs.
“We’re making the process of getting the acute and chronic medications customers need easier, faster, and more affordable,” said Love. “Rapid delivery changes the prescription delivery paradigm from days to minutes, and represents a dramatic improvement over what patients are used to.”
- Where will Amazon offer drone delivery of prescription medications?At this time, drone delivery is available to customers who live in College Station. Eligible customers will have the option to select drone delivery during the Amazon Pharmacy check-out process. If an item is drone-eligible, customers will see a “Delivery by Drone” option that promises delivery within 60 minutes.
- How do I prepare for drone delivery?Before becoming eligible for drone delivery, customers will need to onboard with Prime Air and participate in a yard survey. Once an eligible delivery has been placed, the customer will position an Amazon-provided delivery marker at the designated location. When the drone arrives, it will descend to a height of around four meters and release the package above the delivery area. After the delivery has been completed, the drone will climb back to cruising height and return to the pharmacy. Customers may pick up their package at this time without any interaction with the drone.
- Is drone delivery safe?Yes. Amazon is one of only a handful of drone delivery companies to earn a Federal Aviation Administration air carrier certificate required to operate drones with advanced capabilities. Amazon’s drones have safely delivered hundreds of household items in College Station since December 2022.
- Can I get other products delivered with my medications?No. Customers cannot receive a mix of other products sold through Amazon’s online store, like toothpaste or diapers, with their Amazon Pharmacy medication delivery. This is true for drone delivery and standard delivery. Amazon Pharmacy facilities are separately licensed and maintained, and do not stock non-clinical items.
- Do I need to be a Prime member to use Amazon Pharmacy, Amazon Clinic, or One Medical?No. All of Amazon’s health services are available to customers regardless of whether they are Prime members. In many cases, Prime members enjoy additional discounts on the cost of their medications when not using insurance and save on the cost of delivery.