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How blockchain can help fight fake drugs in India

The problem of counterfeit drugs in the supply chain is a huge one, costing the pharmaceutical industry billions.

India's pharmaceutical industry is the third largest in the world, accounting for 10 per cent of world production, and exports Indian medicines to more than 200 countries, leading the world in the production of generic drugs and vaccines. The bad news, however, is that according to the World Health Organization, 35 percent of the fake drugs sold worldwide come from India. The problem of counterfeit and fake drugs in the supply chain is costing the pharmaceutical industry billions of dollars. More worryingly, it puts patients at greater risk, especially in developing countries, where WHO estimates that 1 in 10 medical products (such as pills, vaccines and diagnostic kits) are substandard or fake. Globally, more than one million people die each year as a result of consuming counterfeit medicines.

Drug manufacturers are struggling to find an effective way to securely, transparently and quickly track the origin of these drugs or to obtain the data needed to combat counterfeit drug sales. In order to continue to maintain confidence in Indian exports of medicines, the Government of India is working on a mechanism to keep track of all medicines produced and exported from the country in real time. It also hopes to provide patients and regulators around the world with the means to verify the authenticity of Indian-made medicines.

entry point

Before we go any further, Understanding how fake drugs manage to enter the supply chain, This is crucial.。 There are multiple unproven and unsafe points of contact, Any one of these could be a deadly fake drug entry point。

The complex global supply chain makes it more difficult to identify the source of a drug or drug ingredient.

-They often go through multiple non-quality-checking trading companies before the drugs reach their final destination

-One or more participants in the supply chain may be corrupt: contamination, substitution or mislabelling of products in the supply chain

-The manufacturer is unaware that the ingredients may come from an unproven source

-Makers of raw materials or drugs succeed in becoming legitimate pharmaceutical companies with the help of forged instruments

Challenges in the supply chain

With so many points of entry and no robust or secure system to track the drug supply chain, it poses a huge challenge. The current barriers to supply chain systems may be.

-No uniform and interoperable marking standards

-Fractured and opaque supply chain infrastructure. There is no clear way to track the product journey across the supply chain to reveal the true source and touch points

-Inappropriate management and monitoring

-Multiple staffing changes, including packaging and logistics providers, as medicines are passed between stages, which could be a potential entry point for counterfeit medicines

-Different manufacturers using different systems. This results in wholesalers and distributors needing to maintain different types of solutions in their supply chain systems, which can lead to data or delivery confusion and ultimately risk to consumers.

Solutions - Blockchain

Blockchain is a decentralized digital ledger that records and transmits data in a fast, secure and transparent way. A blockchain-based drug supply chain would rely on all the required entities, such as manufacturers, distributors (3PLs), and pharmacists or hospitals in a trusted network powered by the blockchain. A visible supply chain, including all stakeholders such as suppliers, sellers, distributors, and partners, is created when bottles of medicine are labeled with serial numbers, and packages containing these serial numbers are scanned and recorded on the blockchain at every step of the way from the factory to the pharmacy. In fact. Even manufacturing ingredients, such as chemical components, can be tracked and linked to the finished product.

In addition. Blockchain can record key details, such as the location and temperature of IoT devices attached to packages, so that trips are visible to all relevant entities This also greatly reduces the possibility of record tampering. As a product moves through the supply chain through different hands, each transaction is captured, recording a permanent history of that product. From production to sale, the system is powered by the blockchain, with a digital record of every change of hands. This will help radically reduce time delays, increased costs and human error, and even help detect faults in the system that allow fake drugs to filter. The supply chain is transparent, secure, decentralized and verifiable, in addition to closing supply gaps in real medicines and cutting costs involved in the area of detecting defects.

This can also be extended to patients taking medication. Some companies are working on dispensers that can be tied to a patient's digital identity and report consumption to prescribers or insurers via an embedded wireless device connected to the blockchain. This can help remind the appropriate parties when a patient is using more than the prescribed amount of medication, or when someone forgets to take an important medication on time, prompting them to intervene

Government and industry cooperation

Niti Aayog, an Indian policy think tank body, sees blockchain as one of the solutions to the counterfeiting problem in the Indian pharma industry. They believe that transferring a complete and comprehensive inventory of medicines produced and consumed in India into a blockchain-style system could help eliminate access to counterfeit and shoddy medicines.

In this initiative, private actors have a central role to play. Technology and industry leaders need to work with the government to curb the rising trend of counterfeit drugs. The drug counterfeit trade is more lucrative than the drug trade. Technology providers can leverage their resources, expertise and technology to develop blockchain-powered solutions to eliminate this problem. Not only developing countries, but even developed economies are facing a crisis of counterfeit medicines, as online pharmacies are everywhere.

In addition to government and R&D spending, a transparent and secure supply chain is essential to provide drug formulations to protect lives. By adopting blockchain, pharmaceutical supply chain entities can significantly improve their efficiency and disseminate verifiable medicines globally. Certainly, with the increasing availability of original drugs, patients will benefit in terms of reduced risk and the ability to independently verify the authenticity of products.

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