According to a report by World Health Organisation (WHO), 35% of the fake drugs sold all over the world comes from India which means that an estimated one in 10 medical products circulating in low and middle-income countries like India is either “substandard or falsified”. In India too, 20% of the drugs sold in the country are fake.
India occupies the counterfeit drug market of nearly Rs 4,000 crore, says the research report from WHO. This leads to implication isof highest concern not just for India but for other countries too. As medicines promote antimicrobial resistance in people, who can pass on the mutant infection while travelling to other countries. Such bacteria or virus resistant to medicine will become impossible to treat.
Seeing this danger, a government of India’s policy think tank, NITI Aayog, has partnered with the technology giant Oracle and local chain of hospitals, Apollo Hospitals, where Oracle will integrate its blockchain technology and a distributed ledger solution in pharmaceutical supply chain, which will create records that are unchangeable for each pharma transaction.
With this, India plans to eliminate all channels of counterfeit medical products, including pharmaceuticals, by transferring the hospital chain’s complete inventory to a blockchain-powered system. The technology is expected to reduce fraud and better manage quality in the production and distribution of pharmaceutical products. The government hopes to get real-time visibility into all drugs produced in and exported from the country.
A blockchain is a continuously growing list of digital records, or blocks, that are linked using cryptography.
Essentially, blockchain technology stops the entry of fake drugs into the supply chain, mainly the part between the drug manufacturer and end-consumers. The technology uses a highly scalable transparent protocol in order to assign every manufactured product an asset. These assets are then added to the blockchain and assigned a unique identification number, commonly referred to as hash.
Tying up of NITI Aayog with Apollo hospitals chain will help the hospital chain across India to bring their entire inventory on blockchain which in turn will help in reduction of counterfeit drugs as well as increase efficiencies. In addition, the government will get a bird’s eye view of all the drugs in supply and can identify and track discrepancies. In the words of Mr. Amitabh Kant, CEO of NitiAayog, “… is putting pharma supply chain management in blockchain for complete traceability of drugs from the manufacturer to consumer.”
Besides tech giant like Oracle or IBM, few startups such as Chronicled, LinkLab, iSolve, LifeCrypter and BlockVerify, are also actively working to find blockchain solutions that bring transparency, traceability and integrity to the global drug supply chain.
Apart from this, there are various industries where blockchain hopes to bring about transparency. Even under the healthcare umbrella, there are several blockchain companies working on bringing transparency and security to patient records, DNA database creation and genomics.
In May-June this year, telecom regulator TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) moved a proposal to utilize blockchain technology for curbing irritating telemarketing spam call. Later in last month TRAI mandated the new guidelines of implementing to all Mobile Service Providers in India.