A spokeswoman for Walmart recently confirmed to CoinDesk that the retail giant is extending its blockchain reach through the MediLedger initiative. MediLedger is a consortium of other pharmaceutical companies working to develop a blockchain designed specifically for tracking and verifying prescription drugs, built on the enterprise version of Ethereum. Through collaboration with the consortium, including American pharmaceutical titans Pfizer, AmerisourceBergen, McKesson and Cardinal Health, Walmart intends to capitalize on blockchain’s immutability and trustlessness to adopt a verifiably secure tracking system for their pharmaceutical operations.
MediLedger is scheduled to launch a pilot program in collaboration with the US Food and Drug Administration this month, as reported by Forbes. Congress mandated that the FDA launch a digital system to track and verify pharmaceuticals by the year 2023. Blockchain technology initiatives such as MediLedger are one potential solution currently being explored. The FDA stated the rationale behind the move, indicating:
“a key element of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s mission is focused on helping to ensure that all products [it regulates], including drugs available to consumers, are safe and of high quality. This means working to ensure greater accountability in our nation’s drug supply chain.”
It’s hopeful that blockchain can consolidate supply chain management within the privatized US healthcare system; it’s believed that a decentralized system connecting multiple siloed healthcare databases could prove more advantageous. The Congressional mandate states the FDA’s digital tracking system must be interoperable and standardized, making blockchain the obvious solution. Walmart is looking in the same direction for their own pharmaceutical tracking solution.
This is the second high-profile blockchain implementation for early retail industry adopter Walmart, who in 2016 joined IBM’s Food Trust in using blockchain implementation to identify and eliminate recalled food from product lists. The retail giant also reportedly ordered produce providers to adopt blockchain by September of this year, and has already filed for 50 blockchain patents, including one for a blockchain-powered delivery system involving autonomous robots and drones.
The advantages of decentralized systems are clear to even the biggest heavyweights of industry, including tech titan Microsoft who is building a decentralized identity system atop the Bitcoin blockchain. The upwards trajectory of corporate blockchain adoption is set firmly in motion. Only time will tell how impactful blockchain will be on traditional industries.
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