IBM announced its latest blockchain initiative on Thursday. The company teamed up with KPMG, Pharma Merk and retail giant Walmart to build a block-block health care supply chain pilot.
The four companies want to find a solution to track certain drugs as they go through their supply chain. IBM is acting as a technology partner, KPMG brings a deep understanding of compliance issues (legal norms and industry standards), Merk is, of course, a pharmaceutical company and Walmart would be a distributor of medicines through its pharmacies and clinics.
The idea is to give each drug package a unique identifier, which you can trace through the supply chain, from the manufacturer to the pharmacy and the consumer. It seems simple enough, but the fact is that companies hate sharing any data with each other. The blockchain would provide an irrefutable record of each transaction as the drug moves along the supply chain, giving authorities and participants an easy audit trail.
The pilot is part of the suite of programs being conducted by various stakeholders at the request of the FDA, the health regulatory agency in the United States. The ultimate goal is to find solutions to help comply with the US Drug Enforcement Act. According to the FDA's Pilot Program website, "The FDA's DSCSA Project Pilot Program is designed to help stakeholders in the drug supply chain, including the FDA, develop the electronic system that will identify and track prescribed drugs, as they are distributed in the United States. "
IBM hopes this pilot will show that it is possible to build a blockchain platform or a network on which other companies can build applications. "The network in this case would have the ability to exchange information about these pharmaceutical shipments in a way that would guarantee privacy but would be validated," said Mark Treshock, global leader in blockbain solutions for health and life sciences at IBM, TechCrunch.