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Tackling the menace of counterfeit drugs with Blockchain

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The pharmaceuticals industry needs an answer in the war versus bogus medicine. Blockchain could be that answer.

Counterfeit drugs have always been a thorn in the side of the pharmaceuticals industry. Not only are these counterfeits detrimental to the industry itself, but in fact most bogus drugs are known to have either no effect or harmful effects.

According to a WHO report, 50 per cent of drugs consumed in developing nations are counterfeit. This brings to light a big issue and an ever greater need to address the growing threat that it brings with it.

However, a solution might finally be on the horizon.

Battling bogus medicine with Blockchain

Till date, the application of Blockchain has been limited to the finance industry. While it has enjoyed a significant share of success as a technology in the domain, few have experimented with it beyond finance. However, newer and more ambitious startups and industry giants are taking its application across the board including pharmaceuticals.

Simply, Blockchain makes the entire supply chain tighter and more transparent than ever before. For starters, Blockchain bars the entry of counterfeits into the supply chain itself. This it does by assigning a unique identification number – dubbed a hash – to every manufactured product. This is crucial to how Blockchain addresses fakes. By assigning a UID to every product, the technology cross-checks the hashes to verify whether the product – in this case medicines – are legitimate or not. The access to this product verification process is unrestricted too.

Blockchain opens the supply chain while making it a closely bound mass of crucial stakeholders, namely suppliers, vendors, distributors, partners and customers.

Every transaction in the supply chain is recorded in a detailed, comprehensive manner courtesy blockchain, limiting the potential threat of record tampering.

It plugs the holes in the supply and it does so while simultaneously reducing costs involved in detecting problem areas. The added layer of trust and transparency it creates allows customers to get in on the working of the supply chain.

The platform is autonomous, detecting counterfeits in the blink of an eye. The cherry on the icing is the fact that it provides for absolute verification of ownership pertaining to any particular drug.

The verdict

The menace of counterfeit drugs has been persistent for a while now. However, blockchain has opened a whole new world of possibilities to address the menace. Patients rely on the pharmaceuticals industry to deliver only the most authentic and proven formulas to address their innumerable ailments. Rooting out the problem of counterfeits in the supply chain is the call of the hour.

Blockchain binds the supply chain entities together and improves efficiency, ease of distribution and adds the scope to verify medications worldwide. This access is given across the supply chain, including customers themselves.

Considering how billions of dollars and decades go into developing the perfect drug – it’s crucial that the integrity of the industry isn’t dampened by something as straightforward as counterfeits. Blockchain goes a long way to potentially being a long-term, viable solution in eradicating this threat – ensuring the industry and the end beneficiaries; patients across the globe, get exactly what they asked for without compromise.

(Disclaimer: The writer is Ashissh Raichura, Founder / CEO, Scanbo. Views expressed are a personal opinion.)

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