US FDA Looks to Blockchain Technology to Secure Drug Supply Chain

    FDA takes new steps to adopt more modern technologies for improving the security of the drug supply chain through innovations that improve tracking and tracing of medicines

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    The American Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is launching a new pilot project in which participants of the US drug supply chain (e.g., manufacturers, repackagers and other stakeholders) can pilot the use of innovative and emerging approaches for enhanced tracking and verification of prescription drugs  to make sure suspect and illegitimate products do not enter the supply chain.

    Blockchain will play a major role in this pilot.

    “…We’re invested in exploring new ways to improve traceability, in some cases using the same technologies that can enhance drug supply chain security, like the use of blockchain,” stated FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D.

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    “To advance these efforts, the FDA recently recruited Frank Yiannas, an expert on the use of traceability technologies in global food supply chains. He’ll be working closely with me on ways for the FDA to facilitate the expansion of such methods, such as blockchain technology, to further strengthen the U.S. food supply.”

    “Under his leadership, we’ll continue to leverage all tools available to ensure greater accountability. For the drug track-and-trace system, our goals are to fully secure electronic product tracing, which provides a step-by-step account of where a drug product has been located and who has handled it; establish a more robust product verification to ensure that a drug product is legitimate and unaltered; and to make sure that any party involved in handling drugs in the supply chain must have the ability to spot and quarantine and investigate any suspect drug. We’re committed to staying at the forefront of new and emerging technologies and how they might be used to create safer, smarter and more trusted supply chains to better protect consumer safety and ensure the integrity of the high quality of products they deserve,” added Gottlieb

    The DSCSA pilot project program is intended to help identify and evaluate the most efficient processes to comply with and apply drug supply chain security requirements. The program will aid in identifying attributes the system will need for enhanced product tracing and verification, as well as electronic means to share the information.

    Eligible entities may apply to participate in the program. The pilot will inform the development of the enhanced electronic, interoperable track-and-trace system for industry set to go into effect in 2023 as part of the Drug Supply Chain Security Act. This new program will pilot technologies that may become part of our enhanced expectations for reliable track-and-trace systems. The new system will be aimed at reducing diversion of drugs distributed domestically and will help keep counterfeit drugs from entering the supply chain, and ultimately, reaching patients.