Merck & IBM among collaborators on FDA blockchain programme

Merck & IBM among collaborators on FDA blockchain programme
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IBM and Merck are among the companies to collaborate as part of the FDA’s programme to evaluate the use of blockchain to protect pharmaceutical product integrity.

The programme, in support of the US Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA), also includes KPMG and Walmart.

It aims to address the requires to identify, track and trace prescription medicines and vaccines distrusted within the US.

The program is intended to assist drug supply chain stakeholders – including the FDA – in developing the electronic, interoperable system that will identify and trace certain prescription drugs as they are distributed within the US.

Each company brings unique expertise to the project, which will create a shared permissioned blockchain network that allows real-time monitoring of products.

The proposed network is intended to help reduce the time needed to track and trace inventory; allow timely retrieval of reliable distribution information; increase accuracy of data shared among network members; and help determine the integrity of products in the distribution chain, including whether products are kept at the correct temperature.

“With successful Blockchain pilots in pork, mangoes and leafy greens that provide enhanced traceability, we are looking forward to the same success and transparency in the biopharmaceutical supply chain,” said Karim Bennis, Walmart’s Vice President of Strategic Planning and Implementation, Health and Wellness.

Blockchain is designed to establish a permanent record and may be integrated with existing supply chain and traceability systems.

“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.”

IBM, KPMG and Walmart, the largest retailer in the US, have extensive experience in implementing blockchain solutions to help enhance the safety and traceability of products. Increasingly, customers are requesting more detailed information about products.

This pilot project is scheduled to be completed in fourth quarter of 2019, and results are expected to be published in an FDA DSCSA program report.