The retail giant Walmart shared news on 13 June about collaborating with IBM, KPMG, and Merck to evaluate the use of blockchain to protect pharmaceutical product integrity.
Walmart expressed that the companies had been selected by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This development was in support of the US Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) that caters to requirements to identify, track and trace prescription medicines and vaccines distributed within the US. The retail major further added that the program was intended to develop the electronic, interoperable system to further aid processes.
Karim Bennis, Walmart’s Vice President of Strategic Planning and Implementation, Health and Wellness noted –
“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. We believe we have to go further than offering great products that help our customers live better at everyday low prices. Our customers also need to know they can trust us to help ensure products are safe. This pilot and U.S. Drug Supply Chain Security Act requirements will help us do just that.”
Craig Kennedy, senior vice president, Supply Chain, at Merck added that the supply chain strategy, planning, and logistics are built around the customers or patients served. Craig further opined that reliable and verifiable supply helps improve confidence among all the stakeholders. This was especially applicable among patients while also strengthening the foundation of their business.
Walmart sustained by adding that each company brings unique expertise to the project, which will create a shared blockchain network. This would allow real-time monitoring of products. The proposed network is intended to help reduce the time needed to track and trace inventory, increase the accuracy of data shared among network members. There would also be a facility to determine the integrity of products in the distribution chain.
In September last year, Walmart announced blockchain-based “Walmart Food Traceability Initiative”, to enhance transparency in the food system. This was after the US experienced a large scale and almost unprecedented attack on lettuce by a microorganism. The outbreak witnessed 96 people being hospitalized, and tragically resulting in five fatalities.
Arun Ghosh, KPMG Blockchain Leader noted that blockchain’s innate ability within a private network to provide an immutable record makes it a logical tool to deploy to help address DSCSA compliance requirements. He added that the ability to leverage existing cloud infrastructure is making enterprise blockchain increasingly affordable and adaptable. This facility helps drug manufacturers, distributors and dispensers meet their supply chain goals.