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Fall

08
15

Spring

Medication Delivery Feasibility


Report
David Caballero, Fahad Sheikh, Khadija Almaskeen,
Nathaniel Ivaniuc

English 2116

Medication Delivery Feasibility Report


Medication Delivery Feasibility Report...........................................2
Introduction................................................................................. 3
How is Medicine Delivered (Now)...................................................3
Drones in Medicine Delivery..........................................................4
Pros & Cons.................................................................................. 6
Pros....................................................................................................6
Cons...................................................................................................8

Criteria......................................................................................10
Findings & Justification:..............................................................10
Delivery by Bicycle:...........................................................................10
Delivery by Drones:...........................................................................11
Delivery by Vehicle:...........................................................................11

Conclusion.................................................................................. 12
Citations....................................................................................13

Introduction
Everyone has needed medication at some point in their life. It is this
magical cure to horrible diseases that happen to humans. People in the past
have had problems reaching their pharmacies, doctors, and hospitals in order
to get their prescriptions in the right time. Slow progress in pharmacies has
been an issue for a long period of time; therefore, people were complaining
and writing about it and suggesting solutions to this problem. The Journal of
American Pharmacists Association has written a significant article in 2009
suggesting some solutions, and all the proposed solutions are now practiced
in some pharmacies. Most people nowadays use three famous methods to fill
their prescriptions; pharmacy drive through, pharmacy pick up, and
pharmacy home delivery. However, technology has developed over the
years, and there are more creative ways to deliver medications to the
patients now. A new creative suggestion to deliver medications would be
drones. Drones are aircrafts provided with GPS systems, sensors, and
cameras to deliver prescription to patients in the right time.

How is Medicine Delivered (Now)


Working in a pharmacy requires concentration, because any mistake
will most likely affect a patient. A pharmacist must know how the system of
medication arrangement works, what the conditions to fill a prescription are,
and be sure about how many pills are in the bottle; furthermore, typing
directions of how and when to take the medicine. Technology has made
things a bit easier by organizing patients data, which helps in searching
their profile and prescriptions. Patients have several methods to receive their
medications such as pharmacy drive through, pharmacy pick up, and
pharmacy home delivery whether it was by mail or other methods.
Pharmacy drive through is a method where people can pick up and
purchase their prescriptions without leaving their cars. Some people do not

prefer the drive through method either, as that leads to getting stuck in
traffic. Also, some pharmacists face pressure as Bolan said Chain retail
pharmacies are pushing staff to fill as many prescriptions as possible in the
smallest amount of time with the least amount of help. The current
pharmacy culture prefers speed to accuracy, which comes from the demands
of higher-ups and customers alike. With unrealistic expectations on both
sides, pharmacy personnel struggle to fill prescriptions while maintaining
patient safety. Although its a great benefit, but it doesnt really solve the
problem.
Pharmacy pick up is the oldest and most accurate method for
medication. Patients arrive to the pharmacy while their prescription was
already sent automatically and almost ready for the patient. Pharmacists are
not under pressure when they are filling the prescription, and patients who
usually choose to pick up the prescription are not in a hurry as the ones who
choose the drive through method are. To sum up, pharmacy pick up method
is the best in accuracy of all methods.
Pharmacy home delivery is a method that is rarely used to deliver
prescriptions to the patients, as to avoid the confusion and error of delivering
to the wrong person; therefore, pharmacists do not prefer home delivery
method for filling prescriptions. However, there is one situation where it is
better to choose home delivery, when a prescription is refilled monthly or
weekly. All in all, the last chosen method of delivery is the home delivery
method.

Drones in Medicine Delivery


Drones are aircrafts that can operate autonomously or controlled via
remote control. Within the country, drones are used in recreational activities,
and are constantly improving as time progresses. These aircrafts can be
equipped with a variety of sensors and cameras. Using these capabilities,

drones can offer cost effective solutions in delivering medications to patients.


This form of delivery not only helps cut costs but assist patients in receiving
the medication they so heavily rely on.
Drones offer a vast array of capabilities. Most drones are capable of
carrying items up to 5 pounds in weight. Drones are equipped with G.P.S.
sensors that are used to travel from one location to another. This technology
can carry a range of cameras and record video on their trips. They operate
autonomously by using proximity sensors and using built in algorithms to
pick up objects that may be on their flight path. The algorithms assist the
drone in real time in adjusting its flight path to avoid a collision and continue
to its destination. Another sensor that would assist in delivering medications
to patients would be a heat sensor. This would be crucial in detecting
whether the medications have been delivered to a human being rather than
an inanimate object. This sensor combined with a camera can also verify the
identification of the patient. The camera can also be used to constantly send
video footage to the company in case of theft. This will help in the capture of
criminals who abuse this system.
Currently, this method has not been implemented in the United States,
but a form of this idea has been set up in Germany by DHL. They currently
deliver medical supplies to Juist, an island located of the northwest coast of
Germany. The government has set up a restricted flight path for their drones.
To have this idea implemented within the United States we will have to
request permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to
commence with initial test flights. We will have to wait for regulations of the
FAA to loosen for us to be able to deliver to patients commercially.
This idea can assist patients that are handicapped, as they will be able
to receive their medications directly to their home rather than having to
drive up to the pharmacy. Every patient has a different situation to deal with,
and being able to provide delivery service with drones can help individuals

who cannot leave their home. These patients may have family members, but
most family members have issues in making time to visit a pharmacy to pick
up the prescriptions. By having an autonomous drone deliver the
prescriptions we remove the hassle of having the patient come to us.
Leaving the patient to rest in the comfort of their home.
Technology is progressing at a rapid pace, and who knows where we
will be in a few years. When the policy of the Federal Aviation Administration
loosens, drones will be more than prepared to offer our service to our
customers. With the capabilities included with drones, we can provide
patients an alternate, more efficient, way to having the medications
delivered. This service not only benefits our handicapped customers, but also
customers that may not have time to pick up their medications. Its time for
our pharmacies to adapt to the change in technology.

Pros & Cons

Pros
- Accessibility & ease

Cons

- Save of time

- Impeding weather
conditions
- FAA guidelines

- Reachability

- Privacy

- Collaboration among

- Functionality

pharmacies
- Instant medical

- Limited Abilities

service/aid kit
Pros
For long medicine has had a great impact in our daily lives. Humans
have been able to discover all types of medicine to cure the most dangerous
diseases out there. Still we have had troubles with a lot of people not having

the accessibility to these medicines, and one would imagine how we could
make this process better, luckily there is one: Drones. Drones can have a
major impact in how we humans can utilize them in order to make the
process of consuming medicine easy.
The most important impact that drones could have on communities is
reach ability. We can reach out to communities where it is very hard to get to
and where people need it the most. Mostly, in the rural areas we have a vast
majority of people infected with hard to cure diseases, and one can only
address those by extending our reach ability. We could have drones deliver
medicine from time to time to areas where its hard to reach. It could act as a
means of communication with these rural communities, who do not have the
luxuries of developed urban areas, too. This will also open doors for further
research and cures for diseases we dont get to experience in urban cities;
thus, reaching out is a major perk of having drones deliver goods.
Another major advantage of drones delivering medicine is time. Time is
of essence, and it sure is a very unpleasing feeling when a shipment reaches
late, especially when you paid the extra money to get it. We live in a world
where everything is easily accessible, required you have the resources to do
so, and that a couple of clicks online will get you delivered whatever you
want. Similarly, drones could help us in delivering medicine really fast.
People with allergic reactions, restocking medicine need, old individuals that
cant travel to buy one from the store etc. will benefit a lot from these
drones. With todays technology, one wont even need to go to the doctors
office, you just schedule a video conference online, get checked and
prescribed a list of medicines, and simply place an order online to have a
drone deliver you your prescription in the next 30-45 minutes. All of this can
be achieved while sitting on a chair and doing minimal work. This is a great
perk of having technology of drones acting as our delivery van.
To further dwell into this discussion, I see a lot happening with fellow
pharmaceuticals collaborating with each other to help restock their medicine.

It often happens that we go to our nearest pharmacy, and find out they dont
have the requested medicine in stock, which leads to the consumer having to
wait a few days, and another trip back to the pharmacy to get it; solution:
drones. We could have these pharmacies reach out to other stores and have
them deliver the requested medicine to them in a time span of 30-40
minutes, while the customer grabs a quick snack, we could have the
medicine ready for them. This will definitely lead to less waiting time for the
customer, and a more efficiently ran pharmacy.
These benefits will definitely outlive the critics in a few years, and I am
adamant we will have drones flying around to deliver us the best medical
supplies to save lives. Its only a matter of time when the FDA lifts all the
regulations on these drones, and helps make us this world a better place to
live in. Surely these drones can have a major impact in our lives, and with
time, humans will find cure for diseases we never even knew existed, all
because of drones. All we need is a little patience and trust in this
technology.

Cons
With the evolution of drone technology in the palms of our hands it is
now possible to deliver medicine much more efficiently. With all the benefits
of this new type of aerial delivery we should be implementing this concept as
soon as possible. However, there are some possible stipulations to take into
account. Weather can be a major deciding factor for deliveries to be made,
FAA guidelines/privacy issues, and functionality. There are ways to possibly
avoid these types of problems but for now they are just major cons. As a
major convenience for us all, we can only hope that in the near future we will
have answers to some of these issues and the project for unmanned aerial
vehicles to assist drug delivery can be underway.
When one takes a drone/UAV out to flap its wings, there needs to be
good weather. High winds, thunderstorms, hurricanes, tornados, rain, snow,
and even ice can all cause problems for the UAVs or delivery routes. Also

drones are not exactly cheap at the moment. The price for a high-end
delivery drone can easily cost thousands and can be hard to manage. So to
avoid weather, sort of like airlines, there will be flight cancellations for
intense weather. This might affect some people because their medication
might be delivered late. In this case patients might have to manually drive to
a pharmacy to pick up prescription drugs. Weather will be a slight drawback
if pharmacies do try to manage drone delivery.
A major concern for all drones is obviously privacy. People do not like it
when there is a flying camera that can look into backyards or even homes.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has put guidelines on drones
because of the dangers they can be used for. The FAA is afraid that personal
privacy can be an issue with these types of drones. Although drones have
cameras on them, these medical delivery drones will work a little differently.
GPS sensors can be equipped to allow said drone to be operable
autonomously. With the approval of the Federal Aviation Administration
pharmacies can send out vital medication much more efficiently.
When we talk about aerial delivery we need to take into account some
considerations such as location, accessibility, and reliability. When a delivery
location is far-out we need to understand that drones are battery operated so
drones can only carry medicine within a range and distance to avoid a dead
battery. With location also comes accessibility. If pharmacies are deploying
UAVs in dangerous locations such as major cities with tall skyscrapers and
billboards or even mountainous regions, problems may appear so alternative
routes or backup plans should be set into place. Finally reliability, how can
we trust a region to not have people that would harm or even highjack these
drones? Pharmacies could use the imbedded GPS to relocate lost drones but
they can only do so much to care to missing or damaged drones.
Even though there are some cons to medical delivery, we should not
let it become a problem because the pros do outweigh the cons. If we solve
these problems one by one we will soon see this concept implemented in the

near future and disabled patients will live much more comfortable lives. We
will bring autonomous medical delivery drones to the doors of those in need
and inspire other emerging technologies.

Criteria
1
Not Safe
at all

2
More
safety
issues.

Liability

Cause the
company
large
liability
issues

More
liability
issues.

Efficiency

Not
Efficiency
efficient
Low
at all
Too
High Cost
Expensive
cause
more loss
than
profit

Safety

Cost

3
Can be
some
safety
issues
but low
enough
to be safe
mostly
safe.
Can cause
some
liability
issues
but most
issues
can be
avoided.
Gets the
job done.

4
Lest
safety
issues

5
Safest in
terms of
delivery

Lest
liability
issues

Low risk
of liability
issues.

Efficiency
high

Maximum
efficiency

Neither
Low Cost
too
expensive
nor
cheap.
Just right.

Cost is
least
expensive
. Profits
promised.

Findings & Justification:


Delivery by Bicycle:
Safety
3

Liability
2

Efficiency
4

Cost
4

For safety, we rated delivery as a three. The reason for this rating is
that bicycle carriers can be injured while on the job. They can fall or get

involved in an accident. This is in term raises our liability to a four. With


Bicycle carriers getting in accidents on the job we have more opportunities to
be liable in these accidents. Bicycle riders hired would be skilled enough to
avoid any harm to pedestrians. We gave efficiency a 3 because average
bicycle carriers can only ride up to 12 mph. Lastly, Cost was given a four, as
a bicycle does not cost much to purchase and maintain. Also wages for
bicycle carriers are manageable.

Delivery by Drones:
Safety
4

Liability
4

Efficiency
5

Cost
3

We rated drone safety at a four. Drones are the safest solution


provided as they primarily operate in the air. We can have a drone fall and
hurt a pedestrian, which resulted in liability being raised to a four due to
liability issues that can arise with this technology. Drones were rated at a five
in efficiency due to the speed at which drones can reach. Drones are able to
fly up 45 mph. Within the airspace where the drones would fly, there would
not be any hold up like traffic. Cost received a three because maintaining
drones and implementing an automated system for drones would incur a
good bit a cost. Also the cost of buying a drone range from $350 to $3,000.

Delivery by Vehicle:
Safety
3

Liability
3

Efficiency
3

Cost
2

This method of delivery is implemented in some pharmacies. For safety


and Liability it received a three due to the possibility of traffic accidents that
can occur while driving. Efficiency was also given a three because of traffic
uncertainty. If an accident occurs on the delivery route, this can cause our
delivery times to lower. Cost was given a three since the purchase of vehicles
is more expensive than bicycles and drones. Also insuring the vehicles would
add to the cost.

Conclusion
With the way in which we are adapting for the future, only time can tell
how long it would be before we begin implementing drone delivery. We will
need

permission

from

the

Federal

Aviation

Administration

to

begin

researching and developing phase for this project. These drones are the
optimum option for future delivery methods because of the efficiency,
reliability, and safety of delivery that is unmatched by any traditional
delivery method. Medication is an important part of peoples health and so
shipment should be a priority. Drones would essentially cut out the hassle of
commuting for the elderly or disabled and would also benefit pharmaceutical
companies. With medication as a stepping-stone to drone delivery, we can
only hope that soon we can see mailing or even light packaging becoming
replaced by drone delivery.

Citations
Rupp, Michael T. Improving Medication Delivery and Counselling in
Community Pharmacy. Journal of American Pharmacists Association.
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Bolan, Jonathan. "Accuracy Takes Back-seat to Speed in Drive-thru
Pharmacies." The Daily Cougar ICal. The Cougar, 19 Nov. 2014. Web.
10 Mar. 2015.
MailOnline, Ellie. "Send in the DRONE Doctors! 'Parcelcopter' Will Fly
Medicine and Urgent Goods to a Remote German Island." Mail Online.
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Oct.
2014.
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Mar.
2015.
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