Tech 9 July 2018

Erik Gibbs

FedEx Institute, pharmacy team up in cancer blockchain project

Good Shepherd Pharmacy, a nonprofit pharmacy that specializes in providing prescription medicine to the uninsured in the United States, has joined forces with the FedEx Institute of Technology in a unique endeavor. The two companies are creating a blockchain-based system that will allow patients suffering from cancer to receive potentially life-altering drugs. According to the media outlet Commercial Appeal, the project will be based in Memphis, Tenn., alongside Good Shepherd, and made available across the country.

Good Shepherd, among its many operations, works to collect unused medications from cancer patients for distribution to others who cannot afford to purchase their own. Through the blockchain, this initiative will be enhanced, allowing for secure distribution and reduced costs of operation.

Good Shepherd CEO Phil Baker said, “In Tennessee alone, over $10 million worth of perfectly good prescription medication gets flushed down the toilet every year,” Phil Baker, Good Shepherd Pharmacy’s CEO, said. “Blockchain is the solution for that problem. The REMEDI project (REclaiming MEDicine) will divert valuable medication into the hands of patients who would not otherwise use it.”

In order to support the effort, the FedEx Institute will host an event with Blockchain 901, an organization working to expand the technology workforce in Memphis. Blockchain enthusiasts, as well as industry professionals, will be able to attend the event to discuss the challenges Good Shepherd is going to face with the project, and how these challenges can be overcome.

Cody Behles, the assistant director for the institute’s Innovation and Research Support division, said, “One of the most valuable resources universities can provide to the innovation ecosystem is the space to explore new ideas and opportunities in an unrestrained environment.”

Behles further stated of the push in Memphis to attract technology innovation, “Memphis is attracting next-wave startups that recognize that setting up shop in traditional renovation markets like San Francisco is not always the best business decision. We are here to cultivate collaboration through aligned partnerships and amplification or opportunity.”

The project is the latest in a string of blockchain-based initiatives in the pharmacy space. Most recently, pharmaceutical giant Merck has filed for a patent covering a system to fight counterfeit medicine using the blockchain. Microsoft has partnered with Adents, a provider of supply tracking solutions, in another endeavor that will help to curb fraudulent drug distribution, as well.

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