Walmart appears to be hedging its bets around blockchain-based pharmaceutical tracking.
The big-box retail giant said Thursday it will participate in a drug-verification pilot with IBM, KPMG and drugmaker Merck. This is the second such pilot involving Walmart to be announced in as many weeks, and it will add yet another flavor of distributed ledger technology (DLT) to the drug-tracking use case.
Just last week, CoinDesk reported that Walmart was participating in the MediLedger consortium whose members already include pharmaceutical manufacturers such as Pfizer and the three largest pharmaceutical wholesalers, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal Health. But whereas MediLedger builds upon a private version of ethereum called Parity, the IBM/Walmart project will use Hyperledger Fabric.
Big retailers broadly are clearly getting more comfortable with blockchain technology and exploring multiple options. Earlier this week it emerged that Target is participating in a Hyperledger supply chain tracking project called Grid, while also pursuing its own unilateral blockchain project called ConsenSource.
Walmart was already one of the most prominent companies in the world to adopt distributed ledger technology (DLT), as a participant in IBM’s Food Trust. That system is now out of testing and is used in the wild to track the movement of fruits and vegetables from the farm to the grocery aisle. But the Bentonville behemoth is still early in its explorations of the pharmaceutical use case.
“We are learning, which is the point of these pilots, but our ultimate goal through both is to create a safer, more transparent supply chain for our customers,” said Walmart spokeswoman Marilee McInnis.
Spurred by FDA
These pharmaceutical DLTs are coming to light at this moment in time because the U.S.