“Alexa…I have a headache”

Health |  2 min. read

Medicines delivered by drone?  It could happen.

Now before you think this is just the latest example of the online world run amok, let’s look at who this might REALLY make a difference to.

If you live in a city, or near a city, there probably are plenty of those chain pharmacies, and maybe even a local drugstore or two.  So in which case, the prescription drone might be the equivalent of getting a pizza delivered from the place around the corner.

But that isn’t all of us.  For starters, about one in ten Americans live in areas where there is no “drugstore around the corner.”  In fact, for all the drugstores in the U.S. (and there are a lot), they are not evenly spread out – some parts of the country have THREE times more drugstores per capita (like the Northeast, Southeast and Plains states) compared to others (like the Pacific West, Southwest and Great Lakes region).  Factor in travel time, work schedules and the hours at your “local” drugstore – and picking up medicines is not always so easy.

And no matter where you live, if you have trouble getting around, or you can’t drive anymore – a pharmacy that’s not far away on the map, can be a challenge to reach in real life.  Some drugstores do deliver – but it turns out that the areas with the highest number of people who DO have a medical condition that makes getting around difficult, those are the same areas with the fewest number of pharmacies that deliver.

For someone who can’t get to the doctor easily, there are phone consultations, and even FaceTime or Skype, so you can see each other while you talk.  But you can’t send medicine, or a home test kit through the internet.

So could drones make a difference, delivering prescriptions?   A group at Texas A&M University has started the work of answering that question – and the early results (mathematical modeling to see how and if this could be done) seem promising.

And one day, that knock on the door might be your blood pressure or asthma or cholesterol medication.