Nonprofit pharmacy, Lipscomb establish blockchain consortium to reclaim medicines and track prescription waste

   2019-05-30 22:05

Lipscomb University is leading the way with innovative partnerships utilizing blockchain technology.

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Chain link with digital information imprinted on it.

The use of blockchain technology is rapidly emerging in health care and related field.

Good Shepherd Pharmacy and Lipscomb University, through its College of Pharmacy, recently announced the formation of a nationwide consortium of prescription repositories, health care organizations and higher education institutions to reclaim medications and track prescription waste. 

“The RemediChain consortium is starting a nationwide movement to solve the financial and environmental problems of prescription waste while serving the most vulnerable patients,” said Phil Baker, PharmD, CEO of Good Shepherd Pharmacy. “Our country needs a national repository for donated medication, and we intend to build it. Universities and prescription donation programs in multiple states are partnering with us in this crusade. Lipscomb University has supported our work from day one. We’re honored to officially recognize Lipscomb as the founding university node in our network.”  

The network is being built on RemediChain’s blockchain technology. Consortium members serve as “nodes” in the network, building and maintaining servers to collect and track data on donated medications in their local areas. Each member organization pays an annual fee to support the consortium’s network and to access the data for research and other educational pursuits, which will allow them to generate further insights on how this work can benefit patients. 

“This network has enormous potential to benefit patients across the country most in need, and our participation reinforces the commitment to our student pharmacists to model innovative pharmacy practice,” said Roger Davis, PharmD, vice provost of health affairs at Lipscomb University. “This network is developing the same way the Internet and Facebook originally did – one university node at a time. We’re thrilled to be one of the founding members of what I believe will be a life-changing effort for thousands of people. I hope our peer institutions will join us in this worthy endeavor.”

Interim dean of the College of Pharmacy, Tom Campbell, PharmD, believes strongly in this concept from a partner/administration perspective for the college and also from a personal perspective. Campbell’s wife, Susan, recently lost her battle with cancer, and he was able to provide help to others by donating her unused cancer medication to Good Shepherd.  

Baker has big plans for the network. Since October 2018, the RemediChain platform has received more than $800,000 worth of donated, high-value oral chemotherapy medication, some of which has already been verified and dispensed to patients with demonstrated financial need. Oncology teams in participating states – Tennessee, Georgia, Texas and Iowa – can request specific medications from that donated pool to give to patients who would not otherwise be able to afford their prescriptions. For this network to grow farther and to serve more patients, it needs more nodes. 

“We already have local data,” Baker said. “But comparing our data to other states’ data is where the true value lies. It allows us to identify trends and, once the consortium grows large enough, to increase our capacity.” 

The RemediChain consortium has verbal commitments from four universities, but Lipscomb University represents the longest standing active collaborator and was the first to make the partnership official. 

“Ultimately, this consortium is the backbone of what we envision our health care future to be,” Baker said. “Working together, we can resolve some of our most basic problems – beginning with the thousands of Americans who go without necessary medication because they cannot afford it. The more partners we have in our network, the more lives we’ll be able to save.”

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