Researchers from Portland State University (PSU) have begun developing blockchain solutions specifically designed to combat the counterfeit crisis in the pharmaceutical industry.
According to a recent press release, this new blockchain protocol is reducing the number of fake drugs in circulation. The report further notes the work of the individual scientists on this project. Nirupama Bulusu, a PSU researcher and professor of computer science at the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science is collaborating with Naif Alzahrani, a computer science doctoral student at PSU to develop this project.
Blockchain to Tackle Counterfeit Drugs
Notably, Bulusu and Alzahrani published a work titled, “A new product anti-counterfeiting blockchain using a truly decentralized dynamic consensus protocol.” This research paper describes a new approach to tackle the issue of counterfeit pharmaceuticals by enhancing the process of product verification using blockchain technology. Under this new system, the blockchain will act as a database or chain of information for the recording of all pharmaceutical-based transactions.
The product data stored on the ledger is accessible only by users equipping themselves with specific keys. Digital tags are integrating within this blockchain protocol carrying vital product data. Additionally, this includes the product name, serial number and expiry date. This unique method provides a better way for managing drug supply chains. Likewise, it removes the problems associated with traditional centralized data storage systems when it comes to cyberattack risks. In the past such attacks on systems are occurring are with greater frequency due to hacking vulnerabilities.
Why is a Pharmaceutical Blockchain Necessary?
The proliferation of counterfeit medicine and substandard drugs is becoming a growing problem all over the world. This is especially true for developing countries where counterfeit drugs are estimated to kill more than 50,000 people every year. Counterfeit drugs also are contributing to the emergence of diseases resistant to old cures. Bulusu has stated that the decision to create a pharmaceutical blockchain system stems from the fact that the crisis of counterfeit medicine mostly affects vulnerable global populations.
According to Bulusu,
“This protocol could potentially disrupt and disable illicit supply networks.”
However, advanced nations are not being left out. In 2012, 11 people died in a town near Boston due to the consumption of tainted steroids. With human lives at stake, finding a solution to this problem is now a necessity. Blockchain offers a solution to allow stakeholders to track accurately and transparently pharmaceutical products as they move through the supply chain making it more ethical. The database currently is hack proof and transparent. Thus, relevant authorities can confirm the authenticity of drugs and track it back to its origin.
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