Last week Samsung SDS revealed that it’s exploring using blockchain for the pharmaceutical supply chain, according to South Korean pharma publication Yakup. The report states the first use cases will use IoT to ensure drugs are kept at the correct temperature during transport.
But the trials aim to reduce manual paperwork, automate logistics tracking and verify the authenticity of collections and returns, amongst others. These processes should enable a speedy drug recall should it be needed.
In November, Samsung SDS aims to start the pilots lasting three to six months and aims to commercialize the service in May to June 2021, including globally.
In the U.S., blockchain is one of the technologies used to comply with the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA). Part of the legislation came into force late last year requiring wholesalers to verify that drugs returned from clinics, hospitals and pharmacies are authentic and not counterfeits. It aims to address the problem of wholesalers unwittingly re-selling fake drugs that have been returned. The FDA postponed the enforcement of the legislation for a year.
The DSCSA has broader traceability aims, which come into force in 2023, and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) created the FDA pilot program to try to ensure the industry is on track to meet the deadlines. Most of the major pharma companies participated in recent pilots. For example, seven of the top ten took part in Mediledger FDA trials, including GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis (Sandoz) and Pfizer. Those tests included all three of the major U.S. wholesalers as well as Walgreens and Walmart.
Walmart also participated in the IBM FDA pilot, which included KPMG and Merck. After the trials, IBM announced the Pharmaceutical Utility Network (PhUN), a consortium with the same organizations. With a separate solution, LedgerDomain participated in the FDA tests with UCLA Health, which has five facilities and 200 clinics.
Meanwhile, in Europe, a dozen global pharmaceutical firms have formed an EU-backed initiative, the PharmaLedger blockchain consortium.