As with a large amount of other data sensitive industries, the pharmaceutical industry could benefit immensely from a blockchain solution. The industry is rife with fake and counterfeit products that could negatively affect human health or provide no cure to ailments whatsoever. Richemont are putting diamonds on the blockchain to prevent a similar issue, and it isn’t stopping there. It is putting its entire product range on a blockchain, so consumers can verify that authenticity of the product and so warehouses can track the products from farms to factory floor. If this approach was implemented in the pharma industry, the delivery and use of medicines could become more safer and more efficient.
China Proves There is a Need
China is currently in the grips of a pharmaceutical scandal. The China’s State Drug Administration received an anonymous tip that Changsheng Biotechnology was falsifying aspects of its vaccination production data – a highly dangerous and serious crime. Had a blockchain solution been in place, these tainted batches would have been flagged up as imperfect and would never have made it to market. It is still unclear how long this has been going on for with Changsheng Biotechnology, but it is certainly not the first or last time that it is likely to occur.
Simplify the Prescription Process
In addition to pharma companies being able to accurately track and verify their products are 100% fit for purpose, a blockchain implementation could also help simplify the prescription process. For example, if a patient requires a medicine on prescription, the doctor would write it up and send it to the blockchain. Then a pharmacy where the patient is registered would be notified that one of their patients has a new block on the chain and start creating the prescription contained within that block. Then by the time the patient gets to the pharmacy, the prescription is already prepared and waiting to be collected. This would speed up the entire process and help reduce errors from illegible handwriting.
Keeping Patients Safe Should be the Priority
Currently, patients are at risk from fraudulent manufactures like we are seeing in China, pharmacist errors and even tired nurses giving out the incorrect medicine in hospitals. By implementing a blockchain solution to store medicine records and trace the origins and ingredients of medicines should be the next step in blockchain technology – after all, protecting humans should be the top priority. These solutions would help mitigate errors from overworked staff and prevent mistakes or counterfeit products being sold and given to patients. This is just another case use for blockchain technology that governments should be looking into and considering.
There are already a handful of healthcare and pharma related blockchains and cryptocurrencies out there, such as Pharma (XPH) and XMED (XMC), but these are still in their infancy and are still developing. If there was a government backed healthcare token – much like the oil-backed Petro – we could soon start to see a safer healthcare system with less fake medicine hitting the markets.