Every industry, at present, is looking for a solution to all their business problems. With technological advancement constantly on the horizon, it seems possible to find a diligent technical solution that can be the ray of hope industries desperately need. These advancements are mainly necessary due to the increment of complex circumstances in the industrial supply chain. One such industry is Healthcare and Pharmaceutical.
Blockchain as a Solution to the Drug Supply Chain
Pharmaceutical companies are constantly developing complex technical solutions that allows specific necessary data to be transmitted towards the downstream supply chain partners. As per the requirement of the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (that is, an FDA enforcement law since November 2018), this initiative was officially kicked off.
When you truly look at the logistical scenario, there are at least 6 notifications that are transferred between pharmaceutical drug manufacturer, third party logistics, wholesaler/distributor, and pharmacies within the current supply chain. This shows that there are numerous possibilities to break this entire process down into several steps. This is where a technology like blockchain can come in handy. In fact, this is necessitated.
Blockchain is a technology that creates an immutable distributed ledger that is accessible by all stakeholders. In the scenario above, blockchain can be utilized to standardize drug serialization and corresponding data to a greater extent. All the data with blockchain can be captured in a single record. With its application, blockchain builds numerous opportunities for improvements in the way pharma products are tracked and traced across the global supply chain. Do you think there are true opportunities with blockchain in drug serialization?
Blockchain Based Drug Serialization Solution
Think about a vast scope where more than one product is originating from many pharma companies. There would be many streams of parallel data being sent to downstream partners creating hundreds of dedicated links. Blockchain can help here by creating one big repository to store every link and reducing the number of connections.
Now let’s get into the usefulness of Blockchain in Drug Serialization.
When a product is assigned a serial number, say 12345, the obvious next in the series is 12346. This is the type of sequential serialization that puts the system at risk and allow infiltrators to predict and take over. However, in case of blockchain based drug serialization solution, the next number could be practically anything, like 45267. How can that be? Let’s break it down.
The first 2 digits are the last 2 digits of the previous serial number. The 3rd digit is the number that represents the content in the block. The last 2 digits can be determined by an algorithm that derives after considering the rest of the numbers in the block. So may be the next number would be 67390.
With blockchain, it becomes difficult to guess the next number reducing the possibility of counterfeits. So, if a person requires the next serial number to access the blockchain system, he/she needs to know the current number and the algorithm to get the next number in the sequence.
Ensuring Transparency and Security of Drug Supply Chain
Counterfeit drugs rely solely on being able to guess the serial numbers to create a legitimate supply chain link. If this happens, the medicines would reach the patients putting their lives at risk. Blockchain based drug serialization solution prevents that.
There is another way blockchain can help ensure the transparency and security of drug supply chain; by enabling blockchain based software for drug traceability. These track and trace technologies allow pharmaceuticals to be followed down in the supply chain due to complete transparency (visibility of every step and transaction between stakeholders including verification in supply chain). With this transparency and traceability comes security of the drug supply chain. That is why the DSCS Act was set up. Its goal was to outline the steps to develop a technology or electronic system to identify and trace drugs that fall under the drug supply chain. This would also allow counterfeit drugs to be tracked and removed.
Therefore, blockchain based software for drug traceability (as a part of drug serialization), can help to ensure effective transparency and corresponding security of the Drug supply chain, which has become a major concern today.