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Report: UPS plans in-home vaccination service; Merck interested in partnership

United Parcel Service Inc. is planning to test a service in the U.S. that will send nurses to homes to administer vaccines, Reuters reported March 22.

The Atlanta, Ga.-based package delivery company aims to target the outsourced healthcare logistics market in an effort to fight cost pressure and competition from Amazon.com Inc., which is forming a technology-focused healthcare company with Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to lower the cost of drugs for U.S. employees.

Former GlaxoSmithKline PLC employee Chris Cassidy, who now oversees UPS' global healthcare logistics strategy, told Reuters in an interview that "over-the-threshold services" was where the world was heading.

UPS did not reveal which vaccines will be used in the project.

Merck & Co. Inc. told the news outlet that it is considering a partnership with UPS for the test service, which is planned for later in 2019, as it seeks ways to increase access to its drugs and vaccines.

The Kenilworth, N.J.-based pharmaceutical giant markets measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, vaccine, the chickenpox vaccine Proquad, an experimental Ebola vaccine rVSV-ZEBOV and a vaccine for pneumonia-causing diseases under development, among other products in its vaccine portfolio.

Marken, UPS' clinical trial logistics unit, will have contracted home health nurses who will deliver and administer the vaccine, though payment from medical insurers for the service still has to be figured out, Reuters reported, citing Marken's CEO.