Boots is the UK’s first community pharmacy to deliver prescription medicines by drone.
The retailer was shipping drugs from Thorney Island, near Portsmouth, to the Isle of Wight.
It said using the technology accelerated delivery times while being more environmentally friendly compared to traditional transportation to the island, which involves a ferry and road vehicle.
Boots said the first drone flew from the British Army’s Baker Barracks on Thorney Island and arrived at St Mary’s Hospital in Newport on the Isle of Wight on July 4.
The drugs were then collected and transported to Boots pharmacies across the island.
Earlier this month, the NHS announced it plans to use drones to ship chemotherapy drugs to the island in the English Channel as part of a pilot project, cutting transport time from four hours to 30 minutes.
It is hoped that the use of drone technology will one day enable doctors to place orders for drugs and medical equipment from anywhere in the country on the same day.
Boots said it is now assessing the feasibility of using drones for deliveries.
It cooperates with medical transport company Apian to facilitate the shipments.
Rich Corbridge, chief information officer at Boots, said: “Drones have enormous potential in the delivery of medicines and it is incredibly exciting to be the first community pharmacy in the UK to transport them in this way.
“An island location like the Isle of Wight seemed like a sensible place to start a trial of drones, and their value for the delivery of medicines to more remote locations is very clear.
“In this trial, we will look at how much time we can save, and how we can include drones in our drug supply chain to also create economic efficiencies.
“We now want to prepare for the wider use of this technology in the future.”
Max Coppin, chief operating officer at Apian, said: “Not only can drones deliver medicine to hospitals, but we are especially excited about our partnership with Boots as it demonstrates that drones can also help bring healthcare closer to communities.
“While they are faster and more reliable than land transport, they bring additional environmental benefits and provide a more sustainable solution for delivery.”