Drugs by drone pilot project to begin in Ontario

by Emily Atkins

Drones will soon begin flying supplies from a distribution centre in Milton, Ontario, to a nearby hospital.

Using drones from Drone Delivery Canada (DDC), the pilot program will see medical isotopes winging from third-party logistics provider DSV’s distribution centre to the Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital.

Hamilton’s McMaster University is also involved in the project, and hopes to gain insights into how the nuclear isotope supply chain can benefit from drone technology. The university has a focus on medical isotope research, development, and production, and provides personalized cancer treatments for more than 70,000 patients every year.

Drones for isotopes

“Drones are a potentially transformative technology for solving transportation challenges associated with short-lived medical isotope products. We’re really excited to be involved in this project,” said Andrea Armstrong, research scientist at McMaster University.

DSV already has drone infrastructure in place, and is flying cargo for customers in the area. The hospital will need to have DDC’s takeoff and landing infrastructure installed.

Plans are to have the project begin operations in the third quarter of 2022, for a test period of six months.

Need for speed

The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the need for innovation in urgent healthcare transportation, said Martin Roos, managing director of DSV Air & Sea Inc., Canada.

“Healthcare is constantly evolving and so is the technology that supports it. We are excited to be on the forefront of this innovative delivery system and look forward to working with our partners to further develop this technology for healthcare”, said Hilary Rodrigues, SVP corporate services, performance and CFO, Halton Healthcare.