19 March 2018
With increased legislative pressures and requirements in the US and EU to provide traceability of pharma products through the supply chain, the healthcare sector is now looking to embrace some of the technologies currently acting as a disrupter in other sectors.
It is estimated that 1% of drugs in Western markets are fake and this increases to above 10% in the global markets. Fake medicines are falsified medicines that are designed to pass themselves off as real authorized medicines vs. counterfeit medicines, which are medicines that are made by someone other than the genuine manufacturer and therefore infringe trademark laws. Clearly fake medicines have a cost, compliance and above all, a heath safety risk and there is an urgent need to manage this challenge.
Crypto-currencies like Bitcoin have taken the financial sector head on. The new technology of “Blockchain” has enabled the rapid growth of crypto-currencies. The same technology is being introduced and could become the solution to the pharma sector’s need to provide product traceability through the supply chain and become a game-changer in managing product security.
“Blockchain” provides a list of records called blocks, linked with a timestamp and transactional data secured using cryptography. The technology’s inherent security and reliability provides a digital ledger that is completely transparent and extremely secure, as any change would require a near impossible change to the whole chain. With the data distributed across a network of computers, there is no central entry point susceptible to hackers. This will provide a secure track and trace capability through the Supply Chain for all legitimate drugs.
This does mean that more than ever, data becomes critical including data governance, management and accuracy. These new technologies will be unforgiving where data is not being maintained to high levels of accuracy, and data parameters understood and managed.
As an example, for valid traceability of inventory and to have this managed through the transactional ledgers, then part numbers, lot numbers, quantities and locations will all need to be clearly defined, maintained and accurate.
We often say that data management is the foundation of your business process. Now, more than ever, this will be business critical!
How well managed is your data? Are you ready for the 'Blockchain Revolution'?