Some of the biggest names in commercial America are getting together with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to see if blockchain technology can improve the security of prescription drug supply and distribution.

Reuters reports that tech giant IBM, retailer Walmart, and big pharma company Merck have been chosen for an FDA pilot program that will test blockchain’s ability to track and trace pharmaceutical products.

The companies said they would work with big four accounting firm KPMG to create a “shared blockchain network that will allow real-time monitoring of products in the pharmaceutical supply chain”.

The FDA is hoping to get greater control over counterfeited, stolen, contaminated or otherwise harmful drugs.

The US is currently undergoing an opioid overdose crisis that is killing 130 people a day, causing US state and local governments to file lawsuits seeking to hold pharmaceutical companies responsible for the epidemic.

The new project is aimed at reducing the time needed to track and trace prescription drugs, Retuers reports, as well as improving access to reliable distribution information and ensuring products are handled appropriately and stored at the right temperature.

Blockchain, it is hoped, will help the parties involved establish a ledger on which details can be recorded. The project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

 

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