US FDA Partners With IBM and Walmart to Improve Drug Supply Chain Using Blockchain

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has partnered with four global high-profile firms to apply blockchain in the drug supply chain, tech media outlet ZDNet reports on June 13.

The FDA has reportedly teamed up with companies including IBM, Walmart, Big Four auditor KPMG, and the world's oldest pharma firm Merck in order to build a proof-of-concept (PoC) blockchain network to share and track data on distribution of prescription drugs.

According to the report, the initiative is connected with the United States Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) and intends to assist the FDA — as well as other pharmaceutical organizations — in optimizing the supply chain of pharma products.

Specifically, the project’s participants aim to speed up the process of tracking inventory, as well as providing accuracy of data shared between members of the supply chain and the integrity of products.

Mark Treshock, IBM's global solutions leader for Blockchain in Healthcare & Life Science, emphasized that blockchain technology not only enables an efficient basis for tracing pharma products on supply chain, but also allows for the tracking of connections between network participants without revealing the data itself.

The FDA first revealed its plans to apply blockchain technology to enable a digital drug supply chain platform in February 2019, expecting to launch the technology-enabled platform by 2023.

Recently, Cointelegraph reported that as much as 44% of healthcare organizations in Europe have never heard of blockchain applications’ benefits. Meanwhile, EMD Serono, the North American biopharmaceutical business of Merck KGaA, has recently teamed up with blockchain firm Nebula Genomics to create a blockchain platform for generating and sharing genomic data.