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Walmart signs up for blockchain to track pharmaceuticals

US retail giant Walmart has joined a consortium that aims to develop a blockchain for tracking pharmaceutical supply chains.

MediLedger’s declared aim is to create an “open and decentralised network for the pharmaceutical supply chain,” designed to address the tightening regulations in North America that govern the supply chains of drugs and medications.

In 2013, the US Food and Drug Agency (FDA) enacted the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) which, among its stipulations, requires major pharmaceutical companies to “build an electronic, interoperable system to identify and trace certain prescription drugs as they’re distributed in the United States.”

MediLedger hopes that its blockchain-based enterprise-oriented private fork of Ethereum will provide part of the solution, but this requires major players to sign up to the initiative to give it traction.

Earlier blockchain venture

Walmart’s membership is a boost for MediLedger. The US$220 billion retail giant joins a number of US ‘Big Pharma’ companies such as Pfizer, McKesson Corporation, AmerisourceBergen, and Premier Inc that became members a month ago and are all in the process of testing MediLedger.

Walmart will shortly roll out a pilot project to track pharmaceutical products using MediLedger technology in adherence to the FDA guidelines.

As reports note, this isn’t Walmart’s first venture into blockchain-based supply chains. The group first implemented the technology along with IBM in 2016, to identify and eliminate recalled foods from its product list.

Last September, in the wake of e-coli outbreaks affecting supplies of lettuce and salmonella in products ranging from eggs to breakfast cereal, the retailer asked its suppliers of leafy greens to start using blockchain technology to trace their products all the way back to the farm,

The MediLedger project was developed by the San Francisco-based blockchain tech firm Chronicled to develop a system for trusted data sharing within pharmaceutical product supply chains. The blockchain-based project aims to automate processes such as contract reconciliation, eliminating the associated costs.

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