Usage of Blockchain in Pharmaceuticals
The pivotal cause to develop the Blockchain solution in the medicines and pharmaceuticals industry was to tackle the movement of pharmaceuticals and drugs in the entire value chain of the industry. Right from ensuring the raw materials procured by the suppliers to the end product reaching the hands of the customer; i.e. driving the supply chain from the factory to the dealers and subsequent retail to hospitals and finally to the end customers ensure the safety and authenticity of the drugs. This breakthrough digital process of validating the ledger to the community can save lives of more than 1m people who die due to drug counterfeiting and low-quality drugs due to errors of expiry and ineffectiveness of raw materials.
Most commonly today’s modern pharmaceutical supply chain is quite complex where packaging, repackaging, and the sale can happen where there are some supply chain challenges faced.
Challenges in the supply chain With so many points of entry and no robust or secure system in place to track the drug supply chain, poses a big challenge.
The limitations to the current supply chain system range from but are not limited to the ones stated below:
Absence of unified and inter-operable labelling and identification standard
Siloed, fragmented and opaque supply chain infrastructure. There is no clear way to trace a product’s journey across the supply chain that can reveal the true origin and touch-points
Improper cold chain management and monitoring
Multiple changes of hands, including packaging and logistics provider, as the drugs are handed off between various stages, which could be potential points of entry for spurious drugs
Different manufacturers adopting different systems. This leads to the need for wholesalers and re-sellers to maintain different types of solutions across their supply chain systems, which can cause disarray in the data or delivery and ultimate risk to a consumer
In this case, where the packaging happens a unique serial number is allocated to the medicine this can be recorded using blockchain which ensures to have the same serial number from factory to pharmacy.
The blockchain is associated with the chain of blocks where it can store serial numbers and linked with the help of hash of the previous block. If in case repackaging is performed it can disturb the block’s hash, which can notify the manufacturer. Even if such activity has to be done for repackaging with changing the serial numbers, there is very minimal time to change and some case it is considered to be the impossible activity of changing with the hash of blocks. Embedded or IoT based devices are attached which can trace locations, other activities and ensures that there is no tampering to the medicines which can report back to the manufacturer.
The interoperability in the supply chain is soon going to be the mandate where the movement of the drug has to be traced and this is where the practice analysts at iView are studying the real-time case studies.
The need to built this supply chain mechanism has given our developers a hunger to research and deep dive in the area of this technology and develop solutions around this ecosystem.