Blockchain is rapidly becoming the industry buzzword of the year. No wonder a wide number of organizations, start-ups, creative ventures, and institutions are adopting this new-age technology to drive the market innovation. With the improvement it brings to the table, the healthcare or life science or pharma supply chain domain holds a prominent position.
In our previous article, we gave an overview of how the pharmaceutical industry is combating with a lot of challenges related to ineffective supply chain management, drug counterfeiting, and delay in bringing the new drug to the market etc. We mainly focused on how blockchain is inevitable for the sustainability of the pharma ecosystem and unified workflow.
In this post, we will focus on how blockchain can transform the pharma supply chain management process that is responsible for manufacturing, developing, and bringing new medicines to the market every day.
Benefits of blockchain for pharma supply chain:
The overall purpose of blockchain is to accentuate the pharmaceutical supply chain efficiency by handling data at each point in the chain in a simple, more secure and verifiable as well as digitized manner. The technology can leverage the following values to the process:
- It enhances transparency
- Better security
- Improved scalability
- Engaging stakeholders and building trust
- Increased innovation
Use Cases of Blockchain within the pharma supply chain:
In the current scenario, the pharma supply chain is a very complex process. Too many stakeholders are involved in the research, development, manufacturing, and distribution of a single drug. This delays safe and timely delivery of the medicine to the market. Also, the process lacks transparency in keeping track of the drug distribution.
Blockchain simplifies the tracking process, logistical process as well as enables quality control throughout the supply chain. Given the immutable and distributed ledger nature of the technology, it becomes easy for various instruction documents like a scannable barcode, research documents, or information as to how the product should be treated at different stages to travel smoothly. This provides proper proof that the correct manufacturing process has been followed throughout.
When coupled with IoT, quality assurance of the drug is yet another advantage blockchain brings to the table to improve the pharmaceutical supply chain management process. For eg: Linking the drug required temperature control to the temperature sensor. If the temperature rises than the required threshold, the sensor could automatically record a violation of temperature control for the supplier to take notice of. This can help them provide the best quality products to the end consumers.
Annually, Pharma industry records around $200 billion drug counterfeiting issue. Increasing incidences like fake ingredients in the medicine, fraud-drug companies, unethical online purchase, and delivery of wrong medications are being common in the market.
In order to address these matters, the government has issued a Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) to ensure the proper passing of correct drugs from one party to another. But still, the issue is not been addressed as the sector needs to improve traceability across the supply chain, requires electronic track and traceability for the safety of their products, need to serialized the transaction data to keep everything in sync and communicate it across the chain.
The blockchain technology is a perfect solution to the challenge of interoperability across the system and providers. It provides a verifiable change log, decentralizes the encrypted data and held in a secure electronic environment.
- Consumer Usage
At the end of any supply chain process is the end consumer. Enabling agile supply chain and manufacturing process, blockchain helps in tracking of the medication reducing the need to hold large amounts of potential stock. Suppliers can now reach the consumers in time with efficacy as they can easily track when their drug is moving from stock to the patient.
When coupled with big data analytics, blockchain increases reactivity to the real-time events and patient demands. This not only helps in reducing human costs but also helps to reach the medicines in potential disaster situations.
The traceability and accountability features of blockchain enhance patient safety, loyalty, and confidence in the brand. Brands can ensure patient safety from a product that they can trust while meeting quality assurance across all stages.
From the above article, it is quite evident that blockchain technology is a boon for the pharma supply chain industry. Coupled with IoT, AI, and Machine learning, it is contributing to revolutionizing the entire supply chain management process – building a collaborative network to better serve the manufacturers, intermediaries, and consumers.
Addressing the important issues like drug manufacturing, movement of medicines from manufactures to the consumers, drug safety issues for patients, etc. the blockchain ecosystem is transforming the industry to a great extent.