Blockchain: How Can it Be Used to Overcome the Challenges in the Pharmaceutical Industry?

by Procurement Freelancers Team

The pharmaceutical industry’s worth is in the billions, and it continues to grow. It sees booming business because of benchmark quality and safety standards maintained by quality control subcontractors and related officials. However, the industry is facing new problems in the supply chain. The supply chain is showing cracks as a result of inadequate security and faulty tracking systems. Before the problem can spiral out of control, a solution has been proposed called Blockchains.

But, before we dive into the solution, let us check out the problems currently plaguing the pharmaceutical industry.

Problems in the supply chain

The multiple issues causing disruptions in the industry are:

  1. Counterfeit medicine is a result of gaps in medicine quality and security
  2. Chemicals are losing their effect due to ineffective cold-chain monitoring.
  3. Ingredients used for making medicines are getting lost in the long supply chain.
  4. Faulty computer programs prescribing the wrong medicines.

All these have prompted the pharmaceutical community to use the latest and upgraded technology to bring some much-needed improvements.

problems in the pharmaceutical supply chain

Why are these problems cropping up?

The reason for all the above issues can be ascribed to the incredibly complex supply chain. In the pharmaceutical supply chain, everything from the ingredients for making the medicines to the finished goods changes hands. It goes from procurement agents, manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, and more before ultimately reaching the customer.

As such, the task of authentically tracking the product every step of the way becomes very difficult. But, this loss of transparency is costly to pharmaceutical companies. So to prevent more lost profits and lost lives, the industry needs a proper monitoring system. It is here that blockchains can be useful.

Why blockchains?

In the plainest of terms, a blockchain is an electronic sheet or ledger. It can be used for recording several transactions securely and in the proper chronological order. In the medicine industry, it would ideally help in instant drug identification and verification. If unauthorized edits or illegitimate or counterfeit drugs are caught, the administrators will get instant notifications about it. All of these features make blockchain a technology that can be harvested by the pharmaceutical industry effectively.

Read: How Blockchain is Catering to the Global Supply Chain

How can blockchain precisely help the pharmaceutical industry?

  1. Blockchains offer transparency and accountability. This will massively benefit clinical trials. It will ensure that the correct data and results get put through. As a result, better and quality medicines can be made.
  2. There are sensitive drugs that need to be kept under specific humidity, temperature, cold levels, etc. A good example of this is vaccines as they need to be stored in a carefully controlled environment. Blockchains can help here by fitting the supply-chain with devices for tracking the needed vital factors. As a result, there will be better transparency.
  3. If any compliance conditions related to the making or monitoring of a drug aren’t met, the blockchain can send notifications. The relevant parties will get to know about it and take the necessary actions.
  4. Blockchains can help maintain the inventory by offering reliable and timely data updates. Even the inventory can be automated through a trigger. If there is a spike or drop in the inventory, then the trigger will get activated. As a result, it will notify the relevant parties.
  5. Blockchains will be able to track the medicines as it goes through the supply chain. As a result, it will help in the authentic and reliable monitoring. This will help prevent counterfeit or altered products. Due to this, patients will remain protected from life-risking consequences.

use of blockchain in pharmaceutical industry

What are the roadblocks to large-scale blockchain implementation?

It must be mentioned that while the potential benefits are enormous, a fully integrated blockchain system at a global level won’t be easily achieved. The most common problems are:

  1. Trading partners and procurement agents have to show a diligent and positive approach to the method.
  2. The healthcare industry has to adopt a new method of data monitoring and engagement.

How can the above problems be mitigated?

Unless and until a common solution is being reached, the above-stated problems will continue to exist. Yet, it must be mentioned that in an industry, the end goal is to earn profits. A transparent and streamlined blockchain method will help with that.

Know that new techniques are being developed that will help integrate blockchains. For one, cloud-based networks will offer end-to-end visibility. With the help of this, complete collaboration can be achieved throughout the medicinal supply chain. Another option is to combine cloud-based networks with decision-support applications. Such a thing can be done by making use of large data in the current supply system. As a result of this, there will be lower inventories, higher shelf-life of products, and higher profit margins.

Blockchain is the future of the pharmaceutical industry. It will help regulate the disrupted and divided supply chain consisting of multiple nodes like quality control subcontractors, suppliers, distributors, and more. Yet, the implementation of the technology faces multiple roadblocks. If these roadblocks can be eliminated and everyone can be brought under the same umbrella, it will result in improved profits and quality.

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