Saturday, 04 July 2020

India to combat fake drugs with blockchain

Pilot project will use distributed cryptography system to address pharmaceutical counterfeiting

India has initiated a project to deploy blockchain technology to crack down on counterfeit drugs and ensure that consumers receive authentic products.

The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI), a government think tank, “is putting pharma supply chain management in blockchain for complete traceability of drugs from the manufacturer to consumer,” CEO Amitabh Kant said addressing the International Blockchain Congress in Hyderabad on Aug. 4.

NITI has partnered with U.S.-based information technology giant Oracle and India’s Apollo Hospitals chain to implement the project. It 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.

Initially, pharmaceutical firms, distributors, pharmacists, and consumers will be tracked. Later, additional hospitals will be added to record drug deliveries.

A blockchain is a continuously growing list of digital records, or blocks, that are linked using cryptography. Organizations that use the records share data control in ledgers that are replicated and synchronized across all participants.

The distributed ledgers list every block. Each block has a unique identification number for each pharma product, along with transaction data that are encrypted and unalterable. As soon as a transaction is made, it is shared and reconciled across all ledgers held by all participants.

The network’s database may include information on pharmaceutical ingredients and packaging, as well as processing and operational details. All these inputs can be tracked and linked to the finished product. The list of blocks can grow continuously. Anyone can access the history and source of a medical product by scanning the barcode on it.

India, the world’s largest producer of generic drugs, is a major player in counterfeit pharmaceutical manufacturing. Around 10% of medical products in low- and middle-income countries, including India, is substandard or falsified, according to the World Health Organization. India is the second-largest exporter of over-the-counter and prescription drugs to the U.S. and supplies 40% of generics consumed in the U.S.

Earlier in March, Andhra Pradesh, India’s eighth-largest state, signed an agreement with German genomics and precision medicine company Shivom to build a blockchain-based DNA database of its 50 million citizens.

source: Chemical & Engineering News

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