Retail giant Walmart announced that it has joined the MediLedger consortium, CoinDesk writes. The consortium is developing a blockchain designed for tracking the provenance of medicine. The network is built on the enterprise version of the Ethereum blockchain and uses the Parity client and proof of authority.
MediLedger’s members already include pharmaceutical manufacturer Pfizer as well as large U.S. pharmaceutical wholesalers, such as McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal Health.
This is Walmart's second high-profile blockchain initiative. The retail behemoth is also part of IBM’s Food Trust, the supply chain for food built on IBM’s Hyperledger Fabric blockchain. Now, Walmart is also planning to put medicine on the blockchain. According to Walmart’s annual report, “Health and wellness”—which includes the sale of pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter meds—constitutes a tenth of the company’s sales, amounting to $35 billion.
MediLedger is also planning to launch a pilot project with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this month. By 2023, the agency needs to launch a digital system for tracking and verifying prescription drugs. It is currently testing multiple options, including some that include blockchain technology.
Unlike government-run healthcare systems, the U.S. privatized healthcare system is fragmented. Therefore, the implementation of a centralized system may prove difficult, and a decentralized blockchain solution connecting multiple siloed databases could prove more advantageous.