The retailer joins other big players such as AmerisourceBergen, McKesson and Pfizer in the effort to use distributed ledger technology for medication safety and integrity.

Walmart joins MediLedger, blockchain-based pharma tracking group

By Mike Miliard
03:30 PM

Walmart is the latest major company to sign on with the blockchain initiative Mediledger, which is exploring ways to harness distributed ledger technology to ensure the security and safety of pharmaceuticals.

WHY IT MATTERS
The news, first reported by bitcoin and blockchain website Coindesk, signifies that health and life sciences use cases for blockchain are continuing to gain momentum, with some of the largest corporations putting resources into building out new applications of the technology.

This past month, we showed how other large vendors – AmerisourceBergen, Pfizer, Premier and McKesson – have also been participating in the MediLedger project, which was launched by San Francisco-based startup Chronicled to help ensure compliance with track and trace laws and drug supply security with an open and extensible blockchain-based platform.

"It's distributed, it's decentralized, and the data is private," explained Chronicled CEO Susanne Somerville in a statement. "Even though Chronicled is providing the technology, industry users operate the software themselves."

THE LARGER TREND
Blockchain is fast-emerging as a key technology for the future of supply chain – specifically with regard to medication integrity. We've reported on the Center for Supply Chain Studies, whose studies have focused on pharmaceuticals in particular.

"Blockchain technology may hold a key to establishing a trusted network of information that both industry partners and regulators can rely on to aid in maintaining the security of the legitimate supply chain and thwarting the behavior of nefarious players," said Center for Supply Chain Studies founder Bob Celeste.

ON THE RECORD
Pharmaceuticals aren't the only area where Walmart is interested in the safety possibilities of blockchain. In a recent pilot with IBM, the retail behemoth explored how its decentralized nature could assist in food safety, by tracking the often-complex provenance of produce internationally.

"The food chain is not always linear," Frank Yiannas, Walmart's vice president for food safety, told the New York Times.

 

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: mike.miliard@himssmedia.com

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