UPS launches new last mile vaccine delivery service across US

With growing competition from Amazon, UPS looks to innovate within at home healthcare

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In the wake of growing competition from Amazon, UPS will launch a new last mile delivery service to dispatch nurses to vaccinate adults in their own homes.

According to Reuters, workers in UPS’ 1.7 million-square-foot healthcare complex will package and ship the relevant vaccines to one of UPS’ franchised US stores. At this point, a home health nurse from Marken, UPS’ clinical trial logistics unit, will collect the insulated package, transport it through the last mile and then administer the vaccine at the patient’s home.

The chief executive of Marken, Wes Wheeler, who will be overseeing this project, said the test will aim to discover “if we can connect all these dots”.

A spokeswoman for Merck has said the company will be considering the project for their portfolio of vaccines for viral illness. This would support their efforts to increase patient access to vaccines. .

It is expected that there will be a direct correlation between increasing adult vaccination rates in the US and lowering the cost of healthcare spending, by addressing key preventable illnesses.

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Growing competition from online retailers

In recent years, online retailers have been actively building their capacity in the logistics space, with many believing that it is a natural next step for the big players to enter the cold chain.

Thus far, Amazon have both completed a $1 billion purchase of speciality online pharmacy, PillPack, and have partnered with JP Morgan Chase & Co to lower the cost of prescription drugs costs for their employees.

Ali Baba have launched new procurement initiatives to assist access to the Chinese market for their partners. They have also expanded their logistics services with stakes in YTO Express Group, Best Inc, ZTO Express and STO Express, China’s fifth largest carrier.

Uber has also expanded their capabilities, with their plans to launch Uber Freight in the Netherlands next month. Following this, they are looking to branch out to other European countries, with Lior Ron, Uber Freight head calling 2019 “a year of growth for Uber Freight”.

Speaking to these movements, Tusar Patel, CMO of Kibo, told Supply Chain Dive that “AliBaba, and other large companies, feel that removing the middle man gives them better control over the customer experience, and very likely reduces costs typically absorbed by consumers”.

With pressures mounting over drug costs and consumer expectations for next and same day delivery rising, these online retailers are well positioned to make a mark on the healthcare industry.

Read more about Amazon's potential disruptive impact on pharmaceutical supply chains


UPS further innovates in their last mile delivery

To retain their place in the marketplace, traditional 3PLs are continuing to innovate their offering.

UPS recently announced a further last mile collaboration with drone technology company Matternet. This partnership will launch a logistics service to transport medical samples by autonomous drone to WakeMed’s campus in North Carolina.

Matternet’s battery powered M2 quadcopter will be used, which can carry up to five pounds over 12.5 miles. Speaking about this partnership, UPS said that “the addition of drone transport provides an option for on-demand and same-day delivery”, along with the ability to avoid roadway delays.

The project will be overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration and the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

Will drones be the next big change to the cold chain? Read our analysis on NASA's new drone traffic management system