Here comes the drone with its special load — prescriptions. (Submitted)

History made: Drone successfully takes prescription drugs to B.C. island

Drone carried pharmaceuticals from Duncan to Salt Spring Island

  • Aug. 29, 2019 11:08 a.m.

History was made in the Cowichan Valley last week, with the first-ever attempt to carry prescription drugs from Vancouver Island to Salt Spring Island.

The “Beyond Visual Line-of-Sight” flight carried the pharmaceuticals from a London Drugs pharmacy in Duncan to customers on the island.

The flight, a partnership between London Drugs, Canada Post and Salt Spring Island-based InDro Robotics, could herald a revolution in how some things are transported in the country, especially in rural areas.

Canada Post was selected along with InDro Robotics in 2018 to participate in Transport Canada’s drone trial program.

The proposal focused on testing drone capabilities over open water and partnering to test the delivery of prescription medications to remote areas.

ALSO READ: Drone operators subject to age limit, certification under new federal rules

There were three parts to the trial-drone runs on Aug. 19, including delivery of an Epinephrine pen and opioid-reversing nalaxone brand Narcan, leaving London Drugs’ mobile facility in Duncan to the Country Grocer store on Salt Spring Island, as well as direct, pin-pointed delivery to a patient’s home on Salt Spring Island.

“We are proud to have been selected to participate in the first trial of a drone delivery of this kind in Canada,” said Chris Chiew, a spokesman for London Drugs.

“The ability to provide medications to patients in remote areas that would otherwise have to travel hours to obtain pharmacy service is significant in so many ways. In the very near future, we will be able to provide delivery of prescription medications to an abundance of areas not accessible by vehicle.”

ALSO READ: NASA’s first-of-its-kind tests look to manage drones in cities

The operational data obtained from the trials will be used by Transport Canada to inform regulations moving forward in Canada.

As part of the ongoing testing, Canada Post is simulating deliveries over bodies of water, icy roads and challenging terrain to temporary camps and other remote locations.

“The delivery of prescription medications by drone to rural areas will be of great advantage to communities across the country, including northern Canada and, as well, to hospitals in remote communities where drones can land on hospital heli pads,” said Philip Reece, CEO of InDro Robotics.

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