Armonk, NY — IBM, KPMG, Merck, and Walmart have been picked by the United States Food and Drug Administration to develop a blockchain system to improve drug safety.

The four corporate giants will work together on a solution to track and trace some prescription medicines and vaccines as they move through the supply chain. Each company brings unique expertise to the project: IBM is the technology partner, KPMG brings a deep understanding of the compliance issues, Merck is a drug company and Walmart distributes drugs through its pharmacies and care clinics.

“Our customers need to know they can trust us to help ensure products are safe. This pilot and U.S. Drug Supply Chain Security Act requirements will help us do just that,” said Walmart Vice President Karim Bennis.

The project will create a shared permissioned blockchain network that allows real-time monitoring of products from manufacturer to pharmacy to consumer. The consortium says it will increase accuracy of data shared among network members, and help determine the integrity of products in the distribution chain, like whether they are kept at the correct temperature.

We believe this is an ideal use for the technology because it can not only provide an audit trail that tracks drugs within the supply chain; it can track who has shared data and with whom, without revealing the data itself,” said Mark Treshock, IBM Global Solutions Leader for Blockchain.

The pilot is part of a set of programs being conducted by the FDA as part of the U.S. Drug Supply Chain Security Act. DSCSA was enacted by Congress on Nov. 27, 2013. It outlines steps to build an electronic, interoperable system to identify and trace prescription drugs distributed in the United States.