Zipline Increases Long-range Drone Delivery

Three leading U.S. healthcare organizations—Novant Health, Magellan Rx Management, and Cardinal Health —have begun long-range drone deliveries in North Carolina. Powering this on-demand delivery system is Zipline, the global leader in instant logistics. Each organization is working independently with Zipline to deliver a variety of products from a distribution center in Kannapolis, North Carolina. Together, they are transforming the patient experience and improving when, where, and how care is delivered.

Photo credit: Zipline/

“We imagine a future in which goods are transported nearly instantly,” said Keller Rinaudo, founder and CEO at Zipline. “Together with Novant Health, Magellan Rx Management and Cardinal Health, we are making it a reality. In the process, we are setting the bar for care and convenience with instant logistics.”

“North Carolina is first in flight, and Zipline’s work is taking us to new heights,” said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, who toured the Zipline facility earlier this month. “This innovative partnership will increase access to health care for our community.”

Zipline designs, manufactures and operates the world’s largest automated on-demand delivery service. The service offers a 98% reduction in delivery emissions compared to standard delivery options and creates a more personalized and faster customer experience. Each healthcare organization will utilize Zipline’s service in a different way to improve care, implement on-demand delivery and drive efficiency.

• Cardinal Health, a distributor of pharmaceuticals, medical and laboratory products, is delivering certain pharmaceutical products and medical supplies to Cannon Pharmacy Main to help mitigate risk of inventory stock-outs and reduce barriers for patients accessing the necessary products to fit their needs.

• Magellan Rx Management is the first and only national pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) leveraging autonomous aircraft to deliver prescription medications directly to patients’ homes, including specialty medications that treat chronic, complex conditions. This on-demand, flexible option provides a consumer-centric approach to support patients on their healthcare journey.

• Novant Health, an integrated network of nearly 800 locations, including 15 hospitals and hundreds of outpatient facilities and physician clinics, partnered with Zipline in 2020 to launch the nation’s first emergency drone logistics operation for pandemic response. The healthcare system was the first hospital to be granted FAA approval for contactless delivery of personal protective equipment and critical medical supplies. Now, they are expanding to deliver specialty medications to Novant Health patients to drive better health outcomes.

Through automated on-demand delivery, organizations and their customers can receive deliveries in as little as fifteen minutes. The North Carolina Zipline distribution center is capable of serving customers within a 7,800 square mile area.

“Our launch of the nation’s first emergency drone operation was never the end-goal for our partnership with Zipline. Now we are transforming the patient experience by strengthening our virtual care ecosystem,” said Angela Yochem, executive vice president and chief transformation and digital officer, Novant Health. “While Novant Health has made great strides in our virtual care capabilities, there remains an opportunity for patients to receive all the care they need from home—from diagnosis to treatment. Innovative tools like Zipline’s on-demand deliveries allow us to completely reimagine a fully remote patient care model. The potential impact of this latest launch is immeasurable, and we are extremely energized about our role in creating a blueprint for health care systems across the country.”

“At Cardinal Health, we’re committed to working diligently to help ensure our healthcare provider customers have access to the right medication at the right time for their patients, and an effective distribution strategy is required to make this happen,” said Josh Dolan, senior vice president, pharmaceutical operations at Cardinal Health. “Through our work with Zipline, we are able to expand our world-class distribution services with innovative delivery methods that will help our customers meet their patients’ evolving needs—now and in the future.”

“At Magellan Rx Management, we are proud to be the first PBM to deliver specialty and traditional medications using drone delivery,” said Mostafa Kamal, chief executive officer, Magellan Rx Management. “Together with Zipline, we have a unique opportunity to streamline the delivery of pharmaceuticals, improve access to care, and create a better experience for our patients—especially for those with complex and rare conditions who are often challenged with additional hurdles along their healthcare journey.”

Commercial deliveries began on June 22, with an initial 16 nautical mile flight. These operations mark the first deliveries since the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awarded Zipline Part 135 certification on June 17. The company is only the fourth drone operator ever to receive this certification in the United States.

Cardinal Health, Magellan Rx Management and Novant Health join a growing number of organizations including health systems, governments and companies that are working with Zipline. The launch of this instant logistics system in North Carolina builds on Zipline’s footprint in the United States, operating with Walmart in Northwest Arkansas for instant delivery of health and wellness products.