Blockchain like tool to combat counterfeit medicines: this is the outline of a project that will be implemented in Afghanistan.
In fact, the Asian nation is one of the places most affected by the phenomenon, which is very dangerous for public health. According to surveys carried out by the European Asylum Support Office, 40% of medicines and medical equipment are counterfeited. Although according to the World Health Organization, in poor countries, 1 in 10 medicines is of poor quality or is false.
In addition, in 2017 the Afghan authorities seized more than 100 tons of counterfeit, expired or low-quality medicines.
These figures are sufficient to understand the need to solve a problem that represents a serious health risk for those who could be taking these medications.
A blockchain project to combat counterfeit drugs
To combat this phenomenon, the Afghan government is launching the project Smart Medicine, along with three pharmaceutical companies with which it was associated in November 2019. These are:
- Royal Star Pharma, one of the largest pharmaceutical distributors in Afghanistan;
- Nabros Pharma, Indian pharmaceutical manufacturer;
- Bliss GVS, a pharmaceutical company listed on the Indian National Stock Exchange.
Together with the blockchain startup Fantom, they will establish a system that aims to solve the problem of drug supply in the country. This problem is also affected by the lack of proper controls.
In detail, the goal is certify medicines, using blockchain technology. Fantom will use the collaboration of Chekkit and other partners for the technological infrastructure that will serve to ensure that there is no manipulation.
Shipping labels will be created, scanned at each stage of the distribution process with a hash containing immutable data including.
- Product name,
- Lot Number,
- Date of Expiry.
Each product will have a unique hash, the authenticity of which can be verified on the blockchain.
The agreement will involve up to 80,000 medical products, divided as follows:
- 50,000 hand sanitizers;
- 10,000 joint creams;
- 10,000 Kofol chewable tablets …
- 10,000 foot creams.
As Fantom's CIO explains, Michael Kong:
“We are delighted to advance this vital project to the next stage. We would like to extend our thanks to the Ministry of Public Health, which has supported our vision from the beginning. With the assistance of Royal Star, Nabros Pharma and Bliss GVS, we will ensure the authenticity of pharmaceutical products and make an important contribution to the country's health system. "
For Ghulam Sayed Rashed, Executive Director of the National Regulatory Authority for Medicine and Health Care Products of the Ministry of Public Health:
“This program is the first blockchain application in Afghanistan; We are very pleased to apply it in the healthcare sector to stop counterfeiting of medicines by facilitating the monitoring of pharmaceuticals. It is an important project for our nation, and we fully support it. After the pilot program, we will hold a celebration ceremony and support the initiative to keep moving forward. ”
In fact, they are starting with pharmaceuticals, but Fantom plans to expand the project. In a second step, the agreement with the Afghan government plans to apply the blockchain to the hospital's medical records as well.
In fact, this is an innovative use of blockchain, which seems to gain more importance in the medical sector.
Fantom's IOC, Michael Kong, adds in this regard:
"We are incredibly excited to be the first and foremost blockchain partner for the Afghan Ministry of Health." The initiative to tackle drug counterfeiting in the region is essential to public health, as it allows us to identify weak links and problems in the medical supply chain, and gives the government actionable data. In an age where trust in healthcare (like vaccines, for example) is compromised by too many different factors, anything that can be done to help will have a significant impact on our opinion. ”