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U.S. FDA picks IBM, KPMG, Merck and Walmart to develop blockchain platform for prescription drugs

Fri, 14 Jun 2019, 07:20 am UTC

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has selected IBM, KPMG, Merck, and Walmart to develop a blockchain-based network that would allow real-time monitoring of products.

The initiative is in support of the U.S. Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) that addresses requirements to identify, track and trace prescription medicines and vaccines distributed within the United States. The act will come into force on November 27th, 2019.

Earlier this year, the FDA announced a Pilot Project Program under DSCSA, which aims to develop a digital, interoperable system for tracking and verifying prescription drugs in the U.S.

Under the program, the four companies will leverage their unique expertise to create a shared permissioned blockchain network that allows real-time monitoring of products.

The object is to cut down on the time needed to track and trace inventory, allow timely retrieval of reliable distribution information, increase data accuracy; and help determine 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 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."

According to the official release, the pilot project is scheduled to be completed in the final quarter of 2019. Results are expected to be published in an FDA DSCSA program report. The project's participants will then evaluate the subsequent steps.

Walmart recently joined MediLedger, a blockchain-based pharmaceutical industry network, after Pfizer, McKesson Corporation, AmerisourceBergen Corporation, and Premier also joined the initiative.

Earlier this year, SAP launched a blockchain-based solution that helps to track and authenticate pharmaceutical packaging returned from hospitals and pharmacies to wholesalers before products are resold. The solution, it said, will help ensure compliance with the DSCSA.

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