FDA Is Launching A Pilot Blockchain Project For Tracking Drugs

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the latest government agency set to adopt Blockchain technology to solve endemic chall enges in the industry. In this case, the FDA wants to track and monitor prescription drugs from the point of production, to hospitals and pharmacies. The aim is to protect users from bad actors who offer counterfeits or distort the supply chain.

The Current Supply Chain Is Inefficient

The current method of tracing drugs that the FDA uses is prone to inefficiencies that are putting patients at risk. The two most significant challenges are counterfeit drugs in the supply chain and the diversion of drugs distributed domestically.

In the first case, counterfeit drugs are making their way into the supply chain due to sophisticated technology that some unscrupulous dealers use. For instance, some players repackage fake medicines in genuine packets or containers making it almost impossible for pharmacists and hospitals to differentiate genuine from fake items.

In regards to the diversion of drugs in the domestic supply chain, some participants in the distribution web divert drugs which they then sell at a profit to other markets. The implication is that the vice alters the government’s medical policies and puts the nation at risk of disease epidemics spiraling out of control.

The Blockchain Pilot Platform Will Offer Immense Benefits

The role of Blockchain technology is that it offers a Distributed Ledger System that is decentralized and immutable. This means that the network is safe from manipulation from the frontend or backend.


Understanding how the system works is easy and straightforward. Firstly, medication manufacturers will record on the public ledgers their dispatch and the serial identification of the batch. Secondly, the recipients of the batch, having made the order, will indicate on the ledgers that they have received the batch. Lastly, the drug administrator/seller will note on the open ledger that a specific patient has been issued with the drug.

As per the norm on Blockchain platforms. Smart contracts, peer-to-peer features, proof of work aspects, etc. will be used to ensure compliance with the supply chain standards.

The immediate benefit to all the concerned parties is that the FDA will have reliable data to trace drugs that are of dubious origin through the supply chain cycle and bring the bad actors to book if need be. The step-by-step account drug verification mechanism will be able to achieve about 100% success in guaranteeing the legitimacy of drug products by spotting and implementing a quarantine on suspect drugs.

The Team To Develop The Project Has Already Been Constituted

To get started on the pilot project, the FDA has hired Frank Yiannas- a former VP of Walmart food safety unit. He will head the initiative.

Meanwhile, stakeholders are being invited to participate in the pilot project. The deadline for expression of interest is March 11th. The team hopes to roll out the tracking system by 2023. Experts believe that this platform will enable the implementation of the 2013 Drug Supply Chain Security Act.