Is blockchain the answer to protecting against counterfeits and medicines shortages?
Globally, one in seven medicines are estimated to be counterfeit, and over the last few years, the development of serialisation in the pharmaceutical space has been pivotal in trying to ensure that every capsule, tablet, strip or vial can be traced throughout the supply chain.
It has aided regulators in identifying and removing drugs that may be counterfeit, harmful, or even stolen, potentially saving many lives. In fact, in February 2016, the European Union’s Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) was introduced to help protect patients from the potential danger posed by falsified medicines. This was achieved by attaching a unique identification code to each medicine and allowed for tracking from the manufacturer to pharmacy.
This article considers:
- The UK's current lack of a verification system to validate drugs in the supply chain following Brexit and its stepping out of the European Union’s Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD)
- The country's vulnerability to counterfeit medicines
- The need for drug supply security and authenticity, particularly amid the world’s largest ever mass immunisation programme for COVID vaccines
- The opportunity to now re-evaluate the medicines supply chain
- The potential of modern blockchain based solutions
- Preventing critical medicines being diverted away from UK shores
- The opportunity for a new system adaptable to the personalised medicines of the future where chain of custody and transport conditions are critical to medical efficacy
- The scope for new approaches like automation of customs documentation and AI-enhanced supply chains with warehouse robotics.