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IBM Completes Blockchain Pharma Pilot With KPMG, Walmart, and Merck

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May 5, 2020 | 

Dan Mitchell |  0 Comments| 

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According to an official report submitted to the United States' Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a blockchain-based project piloted by a partnership between IBM, KPMG, Merck and Walmart have concluded successfully. This pilot commenced back in March 2019 and was for an interoperable enterprise solution which helps track and trace pharmaceutical products between trading partners.

The organisations backing the pilot claim that the two key objectives which the project set out to accomplish from the beginning were achieved through the course of the pilot programme. These objectives are, to:

  1. Demonstrate that blockchain can provide a common record of product movement by connecting disparate systems and organizations to meet DSCSA 2023 interoperability requirements in a secure way.
  2. Improve patient safety by triggering product alerts and increasing visibility to relevant supply chain partners in the event of a product investigation or recall.

IBM is acting as a ‘Solution Provider’, whereas KPMG performs double duties as ‘Solution Provider’ and ‘Subject Matter Expert’. Merck’s role is as a ‘Distributor’, and Walmart is the ‘Dispenser’.

“The goal of this Pilot project was to create a blockchain solution that could support each participant’s ability to comply with regulatory requirements in a trusted, secure way while fulfilling the needs of the pharmaceutical supply chain by maintaining data privacy and creating a permissioned view of product movement.”

What Does The Report Say?

The news was revealed in a 35-page report titled ‘Blockchain Interoperability Pilot - Project Report’. This report is addressed to the FDA and signed by the participating entities. Whilst the news was only recently broken by the likes of CoinDesk, the document is dated February 2020.

It specifies that The companies behind the project created this solution in accordance with the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) of 2013.

This act was created to enable cross-party collaboration between ‘pharmaceutical trading partners’ to further facilitate improvements to patient safety. The act also includes key instructions on building “an electronic, interoperable system by November 27, 2023, where members of the pharmaceutical supply chain are required to verify, track and trace prescription drugs as they are distributed in the United States.”.

In the executive summary, the partners outline their solution: which uses blockchain technology to help verify and track pharmaceutical products “in preparation for future DSCSA requirements”. In particular, they highlight properties associated with blockchain such as “shareable ledger, immutable data”.

Concluding: in the 'results and discussion' section, the report details the various areas which the teams believe the pilot had successfully demonstrated. This includes drug provenance and data privacy, increased patient safety, reporting, and recall functionality.

“The Pilot demonstrated that blockchain technology offers a decentralized, trusted way to share information across network participants, providing a path to comply with DSCSA 2023 interoperability requirements. The Pilot also demonstrated minimal complexity associated with the integration of stakeholders’ existing operational systems used in packaging and distribution, which translates to reducing the individual burden of achieving interoperability.”

IBM is a key partner in the open-source, interoperability-focused Hyperledger project, and the IBM Blockchain Platform is even built upon the Hyperledger Fabric framework. Other notable Hyperledger partners include Accenture, Airbus, American Express, Intel, J.P.Morgan, and NEC.

In other healthcare-IBM news: in late April 2020, it was announced that New York-based ‘Northwell Health’ which owns 800+ hospitals had joined IBM’s Rapid Supplier Connect to help provide “coronavirus relief supplies”.


 

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