The deployment of blockchain in pharma operations improves traceability across the supply chain to ensure that drug makers do not incur avoidable losses.
Arguably, supply chain visibility is significantly more critical in the pharma industry than in most others. Unlike other perishable commodities such as food, medicines and drugs need extra care as there are several more ways in which they could undergo decomposition if not handled safely. Visibility is necessary to keep track of the half-life decay status of certain volatile compounds used in the drug-making process. Additionally, pharmaceuticals are compelled by regulatory bodies to maintain accurate provenance records of chemicals and other raw materials used for producing medicines.
This is why drug-makers need to include blockchain in pharma operations, as it ensures transparency and data integrity throughout the drug production, packaging, warehousing, distribution, and export phases.
There are several drug supply chain guidelines set by public health authorities around the world. Some of the renowned regulations such as the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) in the US and EU’s Falsified Medicines Directive make it mandatory for pharmaceuticals to build an electronic and interoperable system to monitor all types of drugs right from their production to their final packaging. Accordingly, pharmaceuticals will need to evaluate different options and select the safest technological tool for the security of their drugs while they are being packaged and distributed.
Blockchain offers a decentralized track-and-trace solution that is useful for the monitoring of drugs or medical equipment from the source all the way to the market shelves. The decentralization feature allows authorized persons holding a private key to track drugs over the supply chain. Generally, blockchain is used in combination with other tools such as IoT and computer vision for connectivity and data transfer, and AI for autonomous decision-making. At every stage of the supply chain, blockchain makes it easier to validate the authenticity of your manufactured drugs. As a result, blockchain-enabled end-to-end monitoring allows you to prevent losses stemming from the contamination or theft of packages while they are being transported or packaged. With blockchain tools in place, your business can avoid contamination-related drug issues that may damage your reputation.
As we can see, the inclusion of blockchain in pharma operations allows you to monitor every phase of your supply chain without a breakdown in communication. However, your business will face a few issues while implementing the technology, such as:
Your business will need to establish new guidelines for your employees and service partners to govern the use of blockchain for supply chain monitoring. These guidelines would contain frameworks for data management among blockchain and non-blockchain networks, authorized trading partner identification, exception handling, handling the changes in system records, and recall alert notifications.
Every partner in your supply chain (wholesalers, chemists, dispensers, material suppliers) would have to be on the same page when it comes to blockchain implementation for the system to work properly. In other words, each service partner will need to make investments in IoT and blockchain systems to ensure interoperability. If anyone in your supply chain fails to do so, that will lead to a breakdown in the network, causing misalignment and inaccuracies in information, affecting everybody equally and adversely.
As you can see, such problems are fairly easy to resolve for major pharmaceuticals, especially when one considers the array of benefits and applications involving blockchain in pharma operations. Once they are overcome, your supply chain operations will become much more secure, allowing you to maintain the quality standards of your drugs.
Naveen is the Founder and CEO of Allerin, a software solutions provider that delivers innovative and agile solutions that enable to automate, inspire and impress. He is a seasoned professional with more than 20 years of experience, with extensive experience in customizing open source products for cost optimizations of large scale IT deployment. He is currently working on Internet of Things solutions with Big Data Analytics. Naveen completed his programming qualifications in various Indian institutes.