INDIA – Retailio, a digital pharmaceutical marketplace, has experimented with drone medicine delivery in collaboration with drone logistics firm Redwing Labs.

The pilot program was carried out in the Karnataka district of Chickkaballapur. The hybrid VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) drones covered a 10-kilometer distance between Gauribidanur and the Hossur Primary Healthcare Centre in eight minutes at an average speed of 90 kilometers per hour and a payload weight of up to two kilograms.

The program was primarily concerned with delivering critical life-saving medicines to hospitals in under 10 minutes while adhering to cold chain and other standards.

Retailio’s online platform connects distributors and pharmaceutical companies. It is present in over 100 cities and has a network of over a thousand pharmaceutical companies, approximately 3,000 distributors, and approximately 100,000 pharmacies, hospitals, and nursing homes.

Access is one of the most pressing issues confronting the Indian healthcare system. This is demonstrated by a shortage of medical professionals, which, is below the World Health Organization’s threshold.

The vision to integrate drones in the healthcare ecosystem is a critical step towards efficient medicine delivery. We feel autonomous drones at scale would bring in a lot of disruption in healthcare delivery,” said Retailio CEO Mithil Jain.

According to a company official, opportunities to provide healthcare supplies to remote areas across the country have opened up as a result of the success of its trial drone delivery.

In September, India saw the first drone delivery of medical supplies, including COVID-19 vaccines, since liberalizing its drone policy last year.

The World Economic Forum organized the month-long Medicine from the Sky trial in collaboration with the Telangana state government, Apollo Hospital’s health tech unit HealthNet Global, and the government think tank NITI Aayog.

The delivery of vaccines by drone was not only a first for the country, but also for Asia.

Two months later, Tech Eagle, in collaboration with the state government of Meghalaya, tested medicine delivery via a hybrid VTOL drone that covered a distance of 25 km in less than 25 minutes.

Arunachal Pradesh’s government announced last week that it intends to test drones for healthcare delivery and afforestation.

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