Blockchain could prevent health crisis by finding, in a faster way, drugs suspected of causing public health problems.

Almost 25 leading pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors, logistics partners and other representatives of the pharmaceutical world published a report to request to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to use blockchain technology to track prescription drugs for patients in the United States.

These representatives of the pharmaceutical sector proposed after completing a pilot program related to the use of this technology in the world of medicine.

Last June 2019, FDA approved the MediLedger Project, which includes a working group of 25 major companies that work within the pharmaceutical supply chain and seek to evaluate the MediLedger network based on blockchain as a vehicle to track medications prescribed in the US.

Among MediLedger members interested in blockchain technology is the multinational pharmaceutical giant Pfizer; the drug wholesaler AmerisourceBerg; the operator of the second-largest pharmacy chain in the United States, Walgreens; the retail multinational Walmart, and the services company FedEx delivery.

Many Benefits

The intention is that the US pharmaceutical supply is not left behind in the international competition. For this reason, the group proposes that the United States has a “central point of data exchange” that allows sharing information related to available medicines quickly, and in a fast and safe way.

Another advantage that is sought in blockchain technology is that it prevents business intelligence or sharing confidential information without authorization. In this way, the group seeks to maintain the immutability of the information, thanks to blockchain technology.

Blockchain Could Avoid Health Crisis

According to the group, at an international level, companies try to maintain the data they share precisely with an increasingly wide variety of partners, systems, and technical formats.

The document warns that in the event of a major public health crisis caused by a drug, “it will be difficult for stakeholders and agents to locate and quarantine the suspect product in a timely manner. Due to this, the life of patients could be at risk. It added that “the advances that blockchain technology can bring to avoid these significant risks could be used”.

However, despite all the advantages that blockchain technology could offer to the pharmaceutical industry, the report also notes that Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) is “a complex solution” that would require a period of stabilization to achieve the expected results.

The report also advances that the long-term success of an interoperable blockchain solution will depend on “strong participation and the adoption of blockchain technology by all industry stakeholders”.

David Vershure, who is Vice president of channel and contract management at Genentech, says that the current infrastructure of the pharmaceutical sector in the United States “lacks the ability to keep data synchronized throughout the healthcare supply chain, which ultimately increases the risk of counterfeit, deviant or illegitimate products”.

Thus, blockchain technology now has the opportunity to do something more for the health sector and show all the benefits it could offer.

By María Rodríguez


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