More than at any time in history, the Pharmaceutical world is suffering from a trust issue. Trust that the drugs or vaccines provided are safe and effective, but even more trust that the products are legitimate and not counterfeit.
Up to 41% of the prescription drugs sold in low-income countries are counterfeit. In the United States, the studies point toward a 1% ratio. It may not seem a lot, but it is enough to raise doubts in the mind of the end-users and all the parties involved in the supply chain.
Often it is virtually impossible to detect counterfeit medicines without a chemical analysis. Moreover, the problem is not limited to prescription medicines: medical devices or Personal Protective Equipment, or even vaccine are also impacted.
The various trading partners involved in the pharmaceutical industry and the Authorities have been aware of the risks for a long time. As a result, they have joint forces to use blockchain Technology to restore confidence in an industry that desperately needs it to operate smoothly for the benefit of all.
Mediledger as a solution for traceability and verification
Mediledger was born with the hope to rely on decentralized blockchain networks to allow tracking in real-time of the location of any drug or medical product from the pharmaceutical manufacturers up to the pharmacists and through the various trading partners.
The encrypted blockchain network brought forward through Mediledger allows competitors to collaborate without the risk of divulging confidential information.
To be successful, the Mediledger initiative needed to include pharmaceutical industry leaders. Pfizer, Bayer, Genentech, Gilead, and Amgen are just a few of the industry participants that gave rise to the birth in 2019 of the Mediledger network.
This blockchain-based solution relies on Chronicled as the technology partner in charge of ensuring the reliability of the technological platform that relies on open standards for more straightforward implementation and maintenance.
Contracts & Chargebacks and Product Verification as the Proofs of Concept
Reverse distribution relates to the return of unused drugs. More than 60 million boxes are returned annually to the wholesalers. Unfortunately, checking the authenticity of the products is virtually impossible without devoting enormous resources and time to a cumbersome authentification process that is not 100% safe-proof.
AmerisourceBergen, McKesson, and Cardinal Health, three of the biggest pharmaceutical wholesalers, are responsible for 95% of the prescription drugs returns in the United States are also part of the Mediledger Network.
Now just with a barcode scanner, the trading partners can check the product’s authenticity and proceed to the chargeback. Thanks to the distributed ledger technology, Mediledger makes it much more complex and virtually impossible for a counterfeit drug to enter the pharma supply chain.
Patient safety is ensured, and transactions between the various partners are simpler and quicker.
Smart contracts also offer the possibility to streamline and automatized the chargeback transactions once the authenticity and validity of the chargebacks are assessed.
In 2020, Mediledger completed an FDA blockchain pilot to prepare for the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) 2023 milestone. According to this law, signed in 2013, the manufacturers have up to 2023 to ensure proper tracking of medications from factories up to patients.
To wrap up
Mediledger is proof that pharmaceutical companies and wholesale distributors are ready to put their differences aside when developing a blockchain platform that will ultimately benefit all parties involved in an utterly complex pharmaceutical supply chain.
Such initiative is a way to streamline processes and save money, but it will hopefully remove counterfeit drugs from the patients’ medicine cabinets.