Couriers for the company will fulfill the orders from independent pharmacies throughout the city. That's the approach developed by Nimble, whose software is powering Uber's service. Nimble has about 24 pharmacy partners that will receive deliveries, according to a company spokeswoman.
Raj Beri, Uber's head of grocery and new verticals, said that New Yorkers are seeking ways to safely run errands now more than ever before.
Uber piloted prescription delivery with Nimble in September, launching in Seattle and Dallas. The New York City expansion is part of a broader push for pharmacy delivery that Uber will roll out nationwide.
The pharmacy move could help expand a delivery business that is increasingly important to Uber as the pandemic saps demand for rides. The company's delivery revenues were up 190% year over year in the third quarter, reaching $1.1 billion, according to the company's most recent earnings statement. The rides business generated $1.3 billion for the quarter, down 52% from 2019.
Uber is just the latest technology giant to target medicine delivery. Amazon Pharmacy launched in November, offering Prime members free delivery and drug discounts. DoorDash in October reached a deal to deliver prescriptions to Sam's Club customers, along with an agreement earlier in the year to deliver all items at CVS, outside of prescriptions.
CVS, meanwhile, reported in its third-quarter earnings that it has more than 3 million members for CarePass, the $5-per-month service it launched in 2019 to offer prescription delivery by mail.
Uber's approach is different from that of Capsule and Medly, two fast-growing New York delivery companies that run their own pharmacies and use couriers to offer same-day service.
Both Capsule and Medly have recorded growth in 2020, driven in part by the pandemic. Capsule—which has raised $270 million from investors—expanded to Austin, Minneapolis, Boston and Chicago last year, along with local expansions to Westchester County, Hoboken and Jersey City.
Medly CEO Marg Patel told Crain's in December that it expected to double its 2019 revenues of $150 million during 2020. The firm operates in New York; Miami; Philadelphia; Somerville, N.J.; and Westminster, Md.