Blockchain in the pharma supply chain can dramatically affect the success and verifiability of pharmaceuticals. Unlike other industries, pharmaceuticals are subject to intense regulation. Failure to maintain proper temperatures or traceability within the pharma supply chain can have disastrous outcomes that directly impact patients and their family members. Adding Blockchain to the pharma supply chain could save lives. Consider the following use cases.
Blockchain in the Pharma Supply Chain Verifies the Authenticity of Returned Drugs
As explained by Prashant Ram of Hackernoon.com, verification of product liability and chain of custody is one of the most critical applications of Blockchain in the pharma supply chain. Even more critical, authenticity and verification of pharmaceuticals in the reverse logistics pharmaceutical supply chain are essential to preventing tragedy. Returns in the supply chain are not new. Medicines are frequently returned to the pharmaceutical manufacturers, resulting from excess inventory or a need to return unsold stock for use in other areas directly. While approximately 3% of all pharmaceuticals are returned to manufacturers, return pharmaceuticals account for up to $10 billion in inventory. Tracking these pharmaceuticals is tantamount to keeping the burden of health care in check.
Blockchain Prevents Unsuspecting Purchases of Counterfeit Drugs and Medical Devices
Another concerning issue within pharmaceuticals revolves around the prevalence of counterfeit drugs and medical devices. Pharmaceutical supply chains suffer an annual global loss of more than $200 billion due to counterfeit medications, reports Mike Miliard of Healthcare IT News. Unfortunately, actual damages could be much more severe, including patients in need of quality medication suffering due to the purchase of illegitimate products. Blockchain in the pharma supply chain could reduce the purchase of counterfeit drugs and medical devices, thereby reducing damages and saving lives.
Blockchain Increases Compliance With Regulations Regardless of Geographic Region or Location
Since pharmaceuticals are heavily regulated, the use of blockchain in pharma supply chain systems could increase compliance with regulations. As an incorruptible ledger, the blockchain ensures pharmaceuticals are maintained at the proper temperatures and appropriately distributed and kept in secure facilities. In a sense, the use of Blockchain in the pharma supply chain enhances the security and control of drugs.
Blockchain Provides Better Traceability and Reporting of Clinical Trials for Pharmaceuticals
While most applications of blockchain in the pharmaceutical supply chain begin after the drug is manufactured, blockchain may also provide for additional support for traceability and reporting of clinical trials. Clinical trials are critical to getting drugs through the development, research, and testing phases. As a result of utilizing blockchain in the pharmaceutical supply chain, medications can be moved to treat patients faster and with better accountability. Part of this accountability includes understanding the side effects and potential complications from medication administration. Blockchain can provide a resource for health care providers to track side effects and unexpected adverse reactions, effectively building trust in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. With this information readily accessible, more patients are likely to get medical care and treatment when necessary, as opposed to waiting until diseases or illnesses progress to the point of no return.
Blockchain Enables Better Inventory Management, Reducing Risk of Expiration
One of the last applications of Blockchain in the pharma supply chain focuses on inventory management. Effective inventory management of pharmaceuticals is crucial to preventing the administration of expired or recalled medications. In recent months, multiple manufacturers have announced recalls concerning common blood pressure medications. As a result, pharmacies across the country are actively revisiting their inventory management strategies to isolate potential recalls and reduce risk to patients.
Moreover, according to PharmaPhorum.com, inventory management of pharmaceuticals is tied to forecasting demand, such as planning for the upcoming flu season.
At the same time, tracking of pharmaceuticals has never been more critical. In fact, the Drug Supply Chain Security Act mandated all U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturers implement serialization or barcoding of drugs at the package level, and this is precisely the type of item-level detail that blockchain could enhance.
Discover the Potential of Blockchain with ShipChain
The applications of Blockchain in the pharma supply chain will significantly improve the quality of care and treatment with pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Supply chain leaders should consider the use of blockchain in their enterprises and work to integrate existing systems to prepare for a blockchain-based future. To learn more and see if using blockchain would be helpful for your supply chain, sign up to get a demo from us today!