The Indian pharmaceutical platform Retailio pilots the delivery of drugs by drone

Digital pharmaceutical marketplace Retailio has trialled drug delivery by drone in collaboration with drone logistics company Redwing Labs.

The pilot program was conducted in the Chickkaballapur district of Karnataka. With an average speed of 90 kilometers per hour and a payload weight of up to two kilograms, the hybrid VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) drones covered a distance of about 10 km between Gauribidanur and the primary care center of Hossur in eight minutes.

The program was mainly focused on delivering essential life-saving drugs to hospitals in less than 10 minutes while maintaining cold chain and other standards.

Retailio connects distributors and pharmaceutical companies via its online platform. It is present in more than 100 cities with a network of more than a thousand pharmaceutical companies, around 3,000 distributors and around 100,000 pharmacies, hospitals and retirement homes.


Access is one of the biggest concerns of the Indian healthcare system. This is demonstrated by the shortage of its health professionals whose number, according to research, is below the threshold set by the World Health Organization.

“The vision of integrating drones into the healthcare ecosystem is a critical step towards efficient drug delivery. We believe that large-scale autonomous drones would cause a lot of disruption in healthcare delivery,” said Mithil Jain, CEO of Retailio.

Claiming the success of its trial delivery by drone, the company official said opportunities have opened up to deliver healthcare supplies to remote parts of the country.


Since liberalizing its drone policy last year, India witnessed the first drone delivery of medical supplies, including COVID-19 vaccines, in September. The month-long trial of the Medicine from the Sky project was organized by the World Economic Forum in partnership with the Telangana State Government, Apollo Hospital HealthNet Global Health Technology Unit and the government think tank NITI Aayog. Not only was vaccine delivery by drone a first in any country, but it was also a first in Asia.

Two months later, drone manufacturer Tech Eagle, in collaboration with the state government of Meghalaya, tested the delivery of drugs via a hybrid VTOL drone covering a distance of 25 km in less than 25 minutes.

Last week, the Arunachal Pradesh government said it was looking to fly drones for health care delivery and reforestation.

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