Blockchain In Pharma Supply Chain | Blockchain Use Cases in Pharma

Wolfie Zhao
Jan 9, 2020 at 07:22 PM
Updated Jan 10, 2020 at 11:56 AM

Blockchain is the rapidly growing buzzword of the moment. This Forefront technology is being the solution to multi industries ranging from Solar Energy, Railway, Agriculture, Education, to Various Supply chains. All these industries are subsumed under the umbrella of Blockchain.

Nowadays the Supply chain management is being the head-spinning problem for most of the Organizations. Every industry has separate Supply chain management to streamline their activities and to maximize its customer value. 

Hence, according to Statistic, By 2022, the spending on blockchain solutions globally will reach $11.7 billion. In its order, the global pharma industry too facing a problem of supply chain management, Drug and patient safety as its being so conservative and slow-moving.

This entire blog is About What Blockchain is and how it works in the context of Pharmaceuticals and healthcare.

Challenges in  Pharmaceutical Supply Chain

Before taking you into this blog, let me give an overview of what Pharmaceuticals is and its Supply chain. 

What is Pharmaceutical Industry ? 

Pharmaceutics is actually a discipline of pharmacy that deals with the process of converting an old drug into a medication for the patients.

We often came up with the word pharmacy and pharmacist, yes Pharmacy which is a place where one can buy medicine and Pharmacist defines a person who prepares the medicine. 

As a whole Pharmaceutical is anything that related to pharmacies or pharmacists. But Especially it refers to medicine.

What is Pharmaceutical Supply Chain?

The Essential Thing in any Health system is Delivering medicine to the patients on time. The Management of Pharmaceutical Supply chain is considered as the most dignified and elegant management as it saves the life of human being and also it involves the participation of stakeholders such as Medicine manufacturers, Wholesalers, distributors, service providers, agencies and customers.

These are the problems faced by the stakeholders in the Pharmaceutical Supply chain.

Visibility:

The Primary issue of Pharmaceutical manufacturing Supply chain is Visibility. 

A lack of visibility leads to issues such as Counterfeits, Drug Shortages, and Opioids. Without Proper management in Supply chain, the patients, regulators, and retailers won't know how the drugs are manufacturing and where they coming from. 

At the time of manufacturing if any drugs got contaminated, then the supplier is responsible for the lack of transparency.

Manufacturing issue:

In General, the manufacturing issues include 

  1. The process of mixing various incorrect raw materials, 

  2. Contamination of drug due to cross mixing

  3. Improper labeling of final Product

Retailers Issue:

Improper temperature control and handling of drugs, that is if an ingredient was lost because of poor temperature control in transit then the supplier have to address the concern.

Transportation Issue:

About 80% of active pharmaceuticals and 40% of finished drugs are normally imported to the US from overseas. Not only manufacturing, shippers and distributors also have to comply with regulations under the Drug Supply Chain Security Act.

The enforcement of law requires more time and paperwork, hence here we need significant changes of traceability.

Cold-chain shipping

Cold chain Shiping is the process of transporting top-selling drugs in a temperature-controlled environment as the drugs are very sensitive and effective. But the information related to cold chain shipping will be stored in a centralized database subjected to manipulations and data hacks. 

So here we require software with the capability to track and maintain the chain of identity.

Source : biopharmadive.com

Blockchain in Pharmaceutical Supply Chain

The Pharmaceutical distribution chain in this 21 st century has grown immensely, but still lagging behind in technologies and management systems to simplify the process. Hence blockchain can provide, significant benefits. Blockchain in the Pharma industry provides real-time information to all the users in the supply chain to prevent fraud and to enhance patient safety.

A blockchain is a Software or public ledger or a distributed database, Store every data and group them into sequentially ordered blocks. It is an open-source technology and anyone can access the details at any time. By experiencing the security, integrity, and transparency of the technology, many industries started to use it for their enhanced data storing and retrieving methodologies. 

Working of Blockchain in Pharma industry

Manufacturer Adds QR code

Once the Drug is manufactured the manufacturer will add the QR code to it, which contains item name, item stamp, location, manufacturing, and expiry date. Then that information will be stored on Blockchain, enabling stakeholders to track those drugs transparently with a hash ID added to the blockchain.

After that, the drug will be shipped with a temperature sensor to the distributors via IoT-enabled vehicles to enable cold-chain shipping. This vehicle also sends the real-time location to the blockchain, which enables stakeholders and government agencies to find what time the drug was delivered and received.

Delivery of Drugs to Hospital by Distributors

After receiving the drugs from the service provider, the distributor will cross check the details with the help of hash ID stored on Blockchain and even can trace back that information. once the validation was done the distributor will sign the transaction digitally and added to Blockchain. 

Then the Drugs will be sent to hospitals/Pharmacies when the signed transaction triggers the smart contracts.

Pharmacist's drug verification 

Here Pharmacist too can track the drug details with the hash ID. The transaction will be considered invalid if any distributor sells counterfeit drugs with a fake ID to pharmacists and patients. The transaction cannot be done without a private key too.

Once the Transaction is valid and it will be further added to the blockchain as a legal deal.

Patients Buy and Verification of Drug

Patients can check out the drug whether it is safe or not by scanning the QR code attached to packing using the mobile app. Those details will be fetched from blockchain through QR code. 

Once they are satisfied they can give rating and feedback to the drugs and that feedback will be again stored on Blockchain. All these data on the blockchain are maintained by consensus-driven, transparent and immutable. 

Benefits of Blockchain in Pharma Supply chain

  1. Inventory management

  2. Clinical trial MAnagement

  3. Drug Safety

  4. Greater Visibility

  5. Sound Security

Top Healthcare and Pharma Industry working on Blockchain

1. PFIZER AND OTHERS JOIN MEDILEDGER CONSORTIUM
   
    This project utilizes a closed blockchain System to track who touched what drug and what time.

2. UNITED HEALTHCARE JOINS CONSORTIA

       The aim of this project is to reduce administrative costs and ensure their provider directories are up to date.

3. NMC HEALTHCARE IS WORKING WITH STARTUPS

    This healthcare provider is working with blockchain startups to improve their internal systems.

Reference: cbinsights.com

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