FDA signs up IBM, Walmart to track prescription drugs on blockchain

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reached an agreement with both Walmart and IBM on the application of blockchain technology to help secure the drug supply chain, Reuters reported. This partnership also included pharmaceutical producer Merck and KPMG.

The aim of this project is to help the FDA as well as other interested parties to be able to track the drug supply chain. This will enable it to be able to identify the point of origin and trace that drug all the way through the distribution to patients. This partnership was created to fulfill a portion of the United States Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA). The plan is to develop a platform where drugs could be tracked to meet the requirements of the act was first proposed in February 2019, and is expected to be completed online by 2023.

The emphasis of this project is not only to provide greater security of the supply chain but to also the tracking process. Integrity is the key to this partnership, and it is expected that the groups involved, including IBM, will help to accomplish that goal.

Mark Treshock, who is the global solutions leader at IBM, explained that the use of this technology will play a significant role in improving the efficiency of tracking of pharmaceutical products. It will also enable the FDA to more thoroughly monitor and track pharmaceuticals across various networks participating in the program.

While many companies are creating platforms and new technology using blockchains, it appears that IBM is putting themselves ahead of most competitors. Since the beginning of 2019, IBM has partnered with a number of organizations across the globe to use this technology in a way that can improve efficiency and security.

IBM has made a concerted effort to dominate this form of technology. Blockchain General Manager Marie Wieck explained that IBM has greatly increased its resources towards projects related to blockchain technology. They have also spent a significant amount of money on lobbying governments and organizations across the globe looking to improve the presence of “Big Blue.”

They have not only developed technologies to improve efficiency but have built platforms that allow other companies to build applications based on those platforms. This was the goal the company hopes to achieve with this new drug tracking platform. “The network, in this case, would have the ability to exchange information about these pharmaceutical shipments in a way that ensures privacy, but that is validated,” Treshock explained.

By partnering with Walmart, IBM also hopes that this will open the door for other ventures between the two giants. “It’s very similar, tracking food to tracking drugs, and we are leveraging or adopting the assets that we built for food trust to this problem. We’re taking that platform and adapting it to track pharmaceuticals,” he explained.

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