Counterfeit drugs have the potential to cause death and other allergic reactions to consumers. Blockchain technology has potential to end it
Counterfeit Drugs are all over. Can they be eliminated?
Rampant Fake drugs
What do you think
Can the pharmaceutical industry be more Safer?
The pharmaceutical industry is yet another industry rocked with counterfeit drugs. Africa, in particular, has had some of the highest incidents in this area. Millions of lives have been lost due to the abundance and easy access to fake or uncertified drugs that find their way into thousands of both public and private clinics. This has resulted in heightening low confidence by both patients and the medical community in some specific drug sources from certain countries.
Every year more than 122,000 African children under the age of five lose their lives as a result of counterfeit antimalarial drugs alone. The main challenges have been the lack of tracking mechanisms, tracing and authentication of the drugs at each stage of their journey from the pharma company all the way to the patient. Can blockchain restore that confidence? If so, How can this be done?
Africa seem to be the most hit with fake drugs
Raw Material Sources and Manufacturing
One major area of concern has been the source, specifically the manufacturing companies. In some countries with limited control, a lot of fake or underground companies purporting to be pharmaceutical firms have sprung up with no qualified personal, production tools and source of raw materials. In addition, many lack quality and accuracy assurance procedures. Nevertheless, they still manufacture thousands of fake drugs but "authenticate" them using counterfeit labels. These prove to be toxic drugs that are later found in many unsuspecting medical facilities.
How can blockchain will overturn this?
Firstly, right from registration, raw materials acquisition and processing, the entire processes and procedures will be traced on the blockchain. With its ability to keep immutable data on the blockchain system, it will be possible to authenticate the number of years a particular drug can stay on the shelves. besides, the qualification and experience of the personnel involved in the production lines will be easy to trace and authenticate. The source of raw materials used in the manufacturing process will be traced with 100% accuracy.
Blockchain will make it possible to track, trace, and authenticate the drugs at each stage of their journey from the pharma company all the way to the patient. With such information made available on the blockchain, it will be easier to identify fake drugs and medicines.
Trackable Supply Chains
Secondly, blockchain will ensure that each part of the supply chain takes responsibility. How so? What will stand out is the introduction of traceability and trackability into the supply chain. Much of the leaks and loopholes are on the supply chain. Using blockchain, it will be possible to make sure there's a verifiable provenance of what is delivered, by whom, to whom, when, and where will be clearly visible. Within the pharmaceutical supply chain, there will be a network of trusted users that allows the different parties to store information, knowing that only authorized members can see it, and the information can't be altered once it's been entered.
Enforced Strict Compliance
Thirdly, In terms of pharmaceutical orders, blockchain will allow the verification of authentic drugs trace every journey of it up to the time it's handed over to an authorized party at each transfer point, ensuring compliance with the proper conditions for transportation and asset transfer. It will also ensure that a jointly verified ledger of all transactions is available at all times. This means provenance of each and every drug in the supply chain will be enhanced. Any participants in the network will be able to check and verify the accurate status and whereabouts of the drugs as well as who has and probably consumed them.
When implemented on the permission blockchain it will give each certified and authorized parties in the network a way to initiate action, finish their transaction, track its progress and verify that it was done correctly. With so many players taking an active role in the supply of drugs from manufacturing to the patient, the risk of taking fake drugs will significantly reduce, if not eliminated.
Definitely, blockchain has all the necessary parameters to enforce strict adherence to standard medical procedures when it comes to the sourcing, manufacturing and transportation of medical supply. Once fully-fledged and adopted, many lives will be saved, especially in disadvantage communities and nations. Thanks to the power of advanced technology.
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© 2020 Lumai Mubanga
Shafqat M from Srinagar, Kashmir on November 15, 2020:
Insightful! Had a chance to write about Blockchain a long time ago, your article sheds further light on the topic and progress made thus far.