The Pharmaceutical industry has been finding it difficult to deal with problems related to drug counterfeiting and supply chain management hugely lacking in efficiency. It is also fighting against the Unsustainably high cost of bringing new drugs to the market, along with new standards. Due to this, preventing theft, counterfeiting and forgery while mining cost and improving the efficiency of compliance processes has become the most important task for Pharma and Bio-tech companies. In an effort to remain competitive, businesses have to adopt a game changing technology that can solve most, if not all current issues associated with compliance and traceability.
Blockchain – A distributed ledger technology (DLT) is disrupting the supply chain industry and solves most, if not all existing problems. Apart from bringing more control and enhanced visibility into the network for addressing issues related to traceability and counterfeiting, the use of Smart Contracts helps to automate many processes in the supply chain which significantly brings down cost.
In this complex pharmaceutical world, it is challenging for anyone within the supply chain to track the authenticity of products from start to finish. With the help of a blockchain solution, the much needed trust between all parties of the value chain including Pharma companies, manufacturers, pharmacies and patients would all be secured. There is also the added benefit of supporting compliance with regulatory bodies. While the conventional tracking system has to an extent resolved the pain points, it still cannot ensure the security and integrity of data that has become a cause of concern, especially in the light of recent cyber security attacks.
Here are some advantages of introducing Blockchain technology into the Pharma supply chain:
- Fighting Drug Counterfeiting: Drug counterfeiting has become a pressing issue both in terms of economic cost, as well as patient safety. By integrating Blockchain into the Pharma supply chain, the required trust and transparency is established. This kind of platform allows tracking of pharmaceutical supplies to all the participants of the supply chain. Therefore, while the stakeholders will have the power to maximise their efficiency during drug distribution, patients can ensure their safety by verifying the drugs independently at every stage.
- Ensuring integrity of data: Blockchain technology allows distributed record keeping through its digital ledger. However, the data flowing in the chain is immutable as every new transaction is authenticated by network consensus. The transactions that are once authenticated by the consensus mechanism are practically tamper-proof and cannot be modified. This establishes high-level of data integrity, thereby making data secure, compliant and available for all the participants.
- Improved Traceability: Keeping track of multiple transactions performed by a multitude of participants is one of the thorniest supply chain challenges. The sheer amount of data generated poses a challenge, even when some of the participants have automated systems to trace and then track the progression of drug through the supply chain.
- Blockchain ensures integrity of the supply chain through a closed ledger system that facilitates trusted exchange between the stakeholders, along with the benefit of audit trail that fulfills the evolving regulatory requirements.
- Evolved Regulatory Compliance: Despite strict regulatory policies, the challenges around being sure of ‘trustless’ compliance still exists in the pharmaceutical industry. By incorporating Blockchain, pharma supply chain pain points such as product counterfeiting, condition of drugs in transit, data security etc. can be eliminated. The ‘smart contract’ element of the Blockchain defines terms and agreement that can help healthcare regulators and stakeholders ensure better compliance.
Blockchain has the potential to transform businesses by removing inefficiencies, speeding up transactions while enabling new and innovative business models. However, in the pharmaceutical industry, Blockchain supports wide range of functions, both within and outside the supply chain. But as of now, the drug supply chain tends to be the most appropriate candidate that stands to benefit the most from this ground-breaking technology. This would pave way for a drug supply system that is more efficient, secure and less expensive to function in.