The US Food and Drug Administration wants to be sure sketchy drugs don’t find their way to hospitals and pharmacies, and it’s mulling a technological solution to keep medicine safe. The agency has launched a pilot program that will let the drug supply chain explore ways to track prescription medicine. While the FDA isn’t specific about what tech companies would use, it noted that blockchain was one example. The same decentralized trust system that can trace the origins of your lettuce could also verify that your pills come from a legitimate source.
The agency is seeking to create a system that provides a step-by-step account of where a drug has been sold and who has handled it; a product verification mechanism to ensure the legitimacy of drug products; and a way to ensure that any party involved in handling the drugs has the ability to spot, quarantine and investigate any suspect drug. The new system aims to reduce the diversion of drugs distributed domestically and will help keep counterfeit drugs out of the supply chain.
The FDA has recruited Frank Yiannas, a former vice president of food safety at Walmart, to lead the pilot program. Companies have until March 11th to apply to participate in the pilot. You’ll have to wait a while to see the resulting technology in widespread use, mind you. The tracking system isn’t slated to take effect until 2023, 10 years after the law mandating the technology (the Drug Supply Chain Security Act) took effect.
The FDA has experimented with blockchain technology for sharing oncology-related health data and facilitating health information sharing among the FDA, health care providers and hospitals.
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