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How can Blockchain technology improve the pharmaceutical industry?

In a heavily regulated industry such as the pharmaceutical industry it is required that medicines are produced and purchased in a safe manner from reputable sources. Appropriate distribution processes must be followed and information that states medicine are safe and fit for purpose must be shared. These requirements mean that sourcing products can become limited and an obstacle course for multiple reasons such due to lack of trust and transparency.

The increasing issue of counterfeit drugs also added concerns around safety. This and incorrect labelling provides further issues and complexities all of which can ultimately be at the detriment of patient’s health.

Current Supply Chain limitations mean the industry has the contend with the following problems:

Falsified drugs

When prescriptions are collected the quality of the product needs to be of the highest standard, product must not have been tampered with and must have been stored correctly. Currently the traditional pharmaceutical industry supply chain opens itself up for the following potential issues:

  • Little/No active ingredients

  • Incorrect ingredients

  • Fake packaging

  • Tampered drugs

  • Stolen drugs

Product quality & authenticity

A Pharmacist must be able to know if the medicine has been stored correctly and if the product contains the correct required strength. The current reliance on the Manufacturer, Wholesaler and Courier to provide this information and ensure appropriate procedures have been put in place is limited and provides no authenticity. For a pharmacist to conduct such an audit in the absence of appropriate technology such as Blockchain would take significant time and resource.

Through applying an appropriate digital transformation strategy organisations in this industry can address:

  1. Manufacturers can provide immutable information which enhances transparency and addresses factors such as medication having the correct strength, appropriate formulation and the distribution and storage has been applied in the correct manner. Information is available to those parties in a closed, trusted environment which can not only be accessed through on pack 2d barcoding via smart phone technology by the pharmacist but also the patient providing enhanced safety and security

  2. Weaknesses in the supply chain can impact trust and often result in inaccuracies. Significant issues can occur when:

  • Intermediaries increase complexity – more parties the higher the risk on interception or product damage

  • Interactions are time sensitive. Drugs must be delivered in a timeframe

  • Complete visibility and authenticity of information does not exist in traditional supply chain methodology

Implementing a Blockchain strategy supported by a client focussed front end platform can make a substantiative change to the pharmaceutical supply chain. Product can be scanned, and information shared at critical stages of the supply chain and with information being held in a secure, immutable manner information cannot be amended therefore reducing the chance of fraud.

Advantages of such a platform are:

  • ·Reduced complexity costs – Supply chains become more transparent and therefore product is easier to track.

  • ·An immutable platform can hold such as expiry, formulation and distribution journey. This can be accessed by nominated users with benefits such as improved product information and stock rotation.

  • ·Reduced errors – Medication can be verified and therefore the potential of patient errors is significantly reduced.

  • ·Product security is enhanced – With the growth of the counterfeit medication market applying such a platform and providing total transparency ensure the chances of a supply chain being impacted by counterfeit goods are significantly reduced.

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