United Parcel Service Inc wants to get beyond U.S. doorsteps with a new push into healthcare. The world’s largest package delivery firm is preparing to test a U.S. service that dispatches nurses to vaccinate adults in their homes, Reuters has learned, as the company and its healthcare clients work to fend off cost pressures and competitive threats from Amazon.com.
Company for the initiative
UPS did not disclose which vaccines it would be using in the project, but drug and vaccine maker Merck & Co told Reuters it is looking at partnering with the company for the initiative. The project, previously unreporte, shows how UPS is targeting a larger slice of the $85 billion outsource healthcare logistics market. Deutsche Post’s DHL Group dominates the market, which is expected to grow to $105 billion by 2021.
“Over-the-threshold services is where the world is headed;” Chris Cassidy, who joined UPS last year from GlaxoSmithKline PLC to oversee global healthcare logistics strategy; told Reuters in an interview at UPS’ Worldport facility in Louisville. Here is how the test, slated to launch later this year; will operate: Workers in UPS’ 1.7 million-square-foot healthcare complex at Worldport will package and ship the vaccine to one of the more 4,700 franchised U.S. UPS stores.
Administer the vaccine
A home health nurse contracted by UPS’ clinical trial logistics unit known as Marken will collect the insulated package; transport it the “last mile” to the patient’s home and administer the vaccine; which will target a viral illness in adults. The aim of the test is to “see if we can connect all these dots;” said Wes Wheeler, chief executive at Marken; which is purchase by UPS in 2016 and is overseeing the vaccine project.
It comes as the parcel delivery industry braces for the impact of a cooling economy and competition from customer-turned-rival Amazon’ which is building its own logistics network to contain the swelling cost of dropping millions of packages at shoppers’ homes. UPS healthcare customers; facing political scrutiny over high drug prices and systemic waste; are also under pressure from Amazon.
The world’s biggest online retailer is teaming up with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase & Co to lower prescription drug costs for their employees. And; it rocked the sector last year with its roughly $1 billion purchase of specialty online pharmacy PillPack. Because Experts say raising low U.S. adult vaccination rates would reduce healthcare spending by curbing preventable illnesses that result in doctor visits and hospitalizations.
Merck, a major UPS healthcare customer; Therefore has a portfolio of vaccines for viral illnesses ranging from shingles and hepatitis B to the flu. Because Spokeswoman Pamela Eisele says the company is considering the project as it looks for new ways to increase access to its medicines and vaccines and boost adult vaccine rates.