By Dmitriy Nortenko, CEO and founder, QA Madness.
Healthcare and pharma is one of the fastest-developing industries today, with 2019 characterized by a diversity of startups developing blockchain-based solutions to track and trace global drug supply.
The Quality Assurance engineers at QA Madness predict the active use of blockchain and the growth of traceability system solutions. This trend was offered in 2018 by the Global Future Council Report on Health. But since we get more and more healthcare digital software that functions on the blockchain, I think the trend will be gaining traction in 2020.
Blockchain has all chances to revolutionize the industry, making the global pharma export/import/supply transparent and safe. Blockchain can divide pharmaceutical suppliers and customers as well as to provide secure record-keeping of each transaction. This is by far the most effective and transparent way to ensure trust among the supply chains.
Although usually blockchain apps differ, they share a common approach — creating nodes, digital financial transactions distributed among several parties. That means blockchain creates a corruption-resistant system where the nodes detect legitimate data and, therefore, enable them within the system.
The data itself looks like a series of chronologically organized transactions with a unique digital signature. Such mapping supports stable activity regulation where a person, system or company openly links to the data they contributed.
Therefore, digital signatures, hash values, encryption — all standard security features will come in handy for those who develop a blockchain app for tracing pharma products.
The benefits such traceability system brings
Data protection. Blockchain capacity combines streamlined visibility of stakeholders’ movements through the supply chain transits with private data messaging. The system prevents sensitive business data leakage. Permission-based private messaging controls the list of partners you trust.
Trust and transparency. This is about certifying the drug & material suppliers and the opportunity to trace the whole journey in any supply chain. The possibility to trace stakeholders at any supply chain stage is by far the most effective way to eliminate global illegal drug shipping. As a result, drug safety blockchain creates a greater sense of trust between pharmaceutical companies and patients. Moreover, medicine turn back policy will become much more effective through the traceable supply chain.
Easy and fast management. Blockchain pharmaceutical supply helps to identify the trusted trading and supply service providers. The technology sends quick batch reminders to detect the exact location and source of medicines maintaining increased safety of patients’ health.
As I said, blockchain applications and platforms vary, but there are some standard use cases important for pharma traceability.
Drug verification. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 8% of global medicine export contains counterfeit copies. This is the significant risk to consumers which a high-quality blockchain app must prevent.
Pharma supply chain compliance. This is all about handling, storage, transport regulations since these operations should be the subject of tracking. And while smart IoT devices monitor humidity and temperature, blockchain system has to govern logistics, pharmacies, manufactures — all in one supply chain.
Protocols. Transparency isn`t only about logistics. It involves informed patient consent. Therefore, pharma blockchain includes clinical trial data & results, including any possible risks.
Return drug verification feature. Since pharmaceutical companies often get the drugs back for various reasons, blockchain should become a central regulator of the return policy. The feature helps to record serial numbers so that the wholesalers and patients could verify the drug authenticity.