IBM, Walmart to pilot blockchain network for prescription drug traceability

The proof-of-concept blockchain network is in partnership with the US FDA and its efforts to modernize the pharmaceutical supply chain.
Written by Natalie Gagliordi, Contributor

IBM, KPMG, Merck and Walmart are teaming up to create a proof-of-concept blockchain network in partnership with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The aim of the pilot program -- which is tied to the US Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) -- is to help the FDA and other organizations in the drug supply chain in developing a blockchain network to identify and trace the distribution of prescription drugs.

Using this proposed blockchain network, the companies hope to address multiple gaps in the current drug supply chain process, including the time it takes to track and trace inventory, the accuracy of data shared among members of the supply network, and the integrity of products in the distribution chain.

"Blockchain could provide an important new approach to further improving trust in the biopharmaceutical supply chain," said Mark Treshock, IBM's global solutions leader for Blockchain in Healthcare & Life Sciences. "We believe this is an ideal use for the technology because it can not only provide an audit trail that tracks drugs within the supply chain; it can track who has shared data and with whom, without revealing the data itself. Blockchain has the potential to transform how pharmaceutical data is controlled, managed, shared and acted upon throughout the lifetime history of a drug."

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Walmart has worked with IBM since 2016 to apply new levels of traceability based on blockchain technology across the food supply chain. The retail giant is in the process of implementing IBM's blockchain as part of new food safety requirements for its suppliers. Meantime, Maersk and IBM started to collaborate in June 2016 and last year formed a joint venture focused on using blockchain technology to create a global trade platform.

IBM has been applying blockchain technology in various supply chain scenarios including shippingfoodbanking, and hard drives.   

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