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Cardinal Health to Test Drone Delivery of Medicines to Pharmacies

Cardinal Health, a major health-care-products distributor, hopes to counter delays and rising shipping costs by using drones.

Healthcare services and products major Cardinal Health  (CAH) - Get Cardinal Health, Inc. Report partnered with drone operator Zipline International to test the delivery of medicines to U.S. pharmacies, a media report says.

The pilot program is pending approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The project -- carrying medications, inhalers and other items weighing as much as four pounds (less than two kilograms) from a Zipline distribution center -- will start next year outside Charlotte, N.C., The Journal reported.

Josh Dolan, senior vice president at Cardinal Health, told the Journal that, "drone delivery would allow the company to bypass road obstacles such as natural disasters and help replenish high-turnover items."

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Cardinal Health will likely expand the drone-delivery program to more products and regions, the Journal report added.

Shares of Cardinal Health, Dublin, Ohio, have wavered on Tuesday. At last check they edged 0.4% lower to $50.29.

Through the program the company also hopes to counter delays in inventory turnover and rises in shipping costs.

Zipline, South San Francisco, is an automated logistics company that designs, produces and operates drones to deliver medical products. The company's' drones delivered doses of Pfizer's  (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report Covid vaccine in Ghana last week.

Zipline has said it would deliver merchandise for retail giant Walmart  (WMT) - Get Walmart Inc. Report in northwest Arkansas and deliver prescriptions and medical supplies for hospital system Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City.