Interpol estimates that around one million people die due to counterfeit pharmaceuticals each year. All around the world, medicines are swapped with fake medicine whilst in transit to the consumer. The emerging technology, blockchain, can bring transparency, accountability, and trust to the transportation of medicine to ensure that vital, life-saving medicine reaches the people who need it most.
Currently, as a medicine travels from manufacturer to customer, it is handled by a huge number of logistics companies, subcontractors, and individuals. It is therefore difficult to track an item and assure that it isn’t tampered with.
This lack of transparency and accountability can lead to genuine medicine being swapped for fakes and sold on the black market. The counterfeit medicine travels to consumers who are unaware that the products are potentially ineffective or lethal.
The problem is vast and predominantly affects developing countries. A professional services firm estimated that approximately 450,000 of preventable deaths were caused by fake Malaria medicine.
The Pharmaceutical industry is responding to this. Failures in the current system are reflected by the amount of counterfeit medicine being uncovered; 20 million pills were seized over five months by authorities. Equally, regulators are enforcing new barcoding measures to discourage counterfeiters; unfortunately, these don’t provide a unique identity and easy replication of packaging.
A blockchain solution
Companies such as Qadre are developing a blockchain-enabled solution. Individual pharmaceutical products are manufactured using an innovative tamper-proof NFC (Near Field Communication technology) chip, the same technology that exists within contactless cards., It is encrypted with a unique digital identity generated by the blockchain. The physical object is then traced down the supply chain – being verified at every stage of transit by human or digital verification, i.e. scanning the chip and digitally confirming that the physical item is still intact and located where it should be.
If the packaging has been tampered with, the chip will not respond to scanning, and the authorities will be able to determine the segment of the supply chain where the theft / tampering / switching-out took place and who was most likely responsible. This will not only enable greater accountability, but it might dissuade bad behaviours by illustrating it is much easier to be caught tampering with products.
Every time each unit is verified, the digital signature of the authoriser is stored into the blockchain database, along with any relevant metadata of the time, location, state of the items. Information stored on a blockchain cannot be changed once it has been stored, meaning that the records will automatically reject amendments if a rogue actor tries to retrospectively change the records.
Scanning each individual unit at each check-in point would be exceptionally cumbersome. However, each pharma packet could be assigned with a cheap NFC chip, these could then be packaged into huge containers, sealed with a more expensive and resilient chip. The larger chip would fail to register its identity if the container had been opened and the shipment compromised – meaning that if it remains intact and responding to scanning, one can assume the entire shipment inside remains uncompromised. Upon distribution, the end products can be verified by the consumer through scanning the packet with a smartphone.
Typically, supply chain software is siloed and centralised – meaning no parties have a complete, real-time view of how products are moving down the supply chain. Blockchains are architected in a way that multiple parties can have full (or partial) visibility of the real-time location and state of the product down the supply chain.
By leveraging the unique benefits of blockchain technology, companies like Qadre have created a service that not only allows the key actors to have real-time data on the product, greater security, and increased ROI, but it also ensures that each and every medicine is used as it was intended – to save lives.
Qadre is a blockchain platform managing identity and trust in a digital world.
Qadre plans to redefine how we onboard, quantify, and manage trust in enterprise. Through blockchain we will enable a world where accountability is a natural part of the digital world.
Qadre uses blockchain to solve problems surrounding trust in the digital world. Through a suite of products and solutions, Qadre provides tools to onboard and manage trust for individuals, organisations, and even physical goods; minimizing inefficiencies and opportunities for fraud.
We aim to ensure security is part of our core foundation, rather than a bolt-on feature, in order to bring accountability to the digital world.
Reform was founded in 2001 out of a concern that the record public spending increases that followed would not in fact transform public services, or improve economic productivity, in the way that was hoped. This argument was controversial in the years of apparent boom. The financial crisis of 2007-08 however made very clear that the search for value for money in public spending was not an idle or academic question. It is in fact a front rank political issue and will remain so for as long as the public finances remain in a difficult position i.e. for the next two Parliaments at least.
Reform works on all issues that bear on improved public service performance within affordable budgets. Because some public services make use of competition, we are interested in related examples of competition in the economy such as regulated markets. Because public services need good policy, we are interested in a better Civil Service, stronger Parliament and better Ministers. Our current work is building towards the 2015 Spending Review which, done right, could set a course for better public services and sound public finances in the next Parliament.
Reform is politically independent, with an MP of each of the main Parties on our Advisory Board. Some people call us “centre-right” because of our interest in value for money in public spending. The best description is “liberal” with a small l.
We are an educational charity, established as the Reform Research Trust. We are funded by private individuals and by corporate organisations. We have been praised for the transparency of our corporate donations which are listed here. Our support does not influence our research programme, which is fully independent.
Reform began with two people working from home on their own IT, sending out briefings on issues of the day such as the Wanless Report on the future of the NHS. It is now an established organisation of 15 people and a much greater ability to produce research which informs the public and policymakers. I am proud to be the Director of a team which is regularly described as the most professional of similar organisations. We are not perfect but we have a commitment always to improve. In September 2014 the Home Secretary, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, described us as “the country’s leading think tank on public sector reform”. We understand that support for our work entirely depends on the quality of our research and wider effort.
When Reform was launched, all of the major Westminster parties supported much higher spending as the way to improve public services and the economy. None of them now do. There is a better understanding that what matters is the quality and outcomes of public services rather than the size of their budgets and workforce. This is a core part of modern politics and it remains Reform’s focus. Please join our work.
Source : http://www.reform.uk/reformer/saving-lives-with-blockchain/