According to a source, the Indian pharmaceutical industry is the third largest in the world in volume. Unfortunately, most of the times the drugs prescribed by doctors to cure diseases are tainted. According to WHO, a huge per cent of fake drugs sold all over the world come from India. Over the years, the counterfeit medicines market in India has grown exponentially. And today, this market forming a big portion of India’s domestic drug market.
But the questions that might come in your head is “what makes fake drugs a thriving business?” The most probably the answer is lack of adequate regulations, shortage of drug inspectors and a lack of lab facilities to check the purity of drugs, according to a paper by industry body ASSOCHAM.
In order to combat this ever-growing issue of the counterfeit drug in the nation, not only the government bodies but also public companies have stepped forward.
NITI Aayog And Oracle Join Hands
Over the years, Blockchain has gained tremendous traction all across the globe and it has also found its application beyond cryptocurrencies. Today, this latest technology is being used to combat fake drugs in the nation.
In September last year, Indian think tank NITI Aayog partnered with the Oracle, Apollo Hospitals and pharmaceutical manufacturer Strides Pharma Sciences, to pilot a real drug supply chain using blockchain decentralized ledger and IoT software. But why blockchain? According to NITI Aayog, blockchain software is decentralized and has a record of transactions or a process from point A to point Z. Simply put, it has the capability to allow the sharing of information across the supply chain securely recording every exchange of information, and the tamper-proof nature of records of drug movement, which would ensure there is no dispute if an offender is identified.
“The problem of fake and counterfeit drugs is a major issue, costing the Indian pharma industry billions. At the same time, it’s putting patients at higher risk. This agreement with Oracle and our partnership with Apollo Hospitals and Strides Pharma, will help ensure all Indian drug manufacturers and healthcare experts have access to a standards-based, modern technology platform – blockchain and IoT, to help eliminate fake drug distribution,”said Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog.
How Blockchain Will Fight Fake Drugs Market
According to a source, one of the major challenges in dealing with counterfeit drugs is that India doesn’t have a real-time monitoring mechanism. Another challenge that consumers face in terms of verifying whether the drug is genuine or not is the lack of a reliable platform. And blockchain today is considered to be the ultimate solution to the pain-points.
Niraj Prakash, Sales Consulting Leader – Digital India and Digital Enterprise at Oracle said, “Blockchain can be an excellent mechanism to form the backbone of an IT application or IT system that can be formed to counter the problem of fake medicines in India.”
The question that arises is — how will blockchain work in the entire process of combating fake drugs? But jumping right into the solution, let’s understand how the drug manufacturing to selling works.
A manufacturer creates medicine and it goes to the stock. After that, the drugs are supplied to all the dedicated distributors across the nation. And then, the distributors approach retailers to sell that medicine. So in this whole process, blockchain can help in building a track and trace system from the very beginning of the process to the final buying of the drugs by a consumer. Here, the blockchain system will not only cover the entire process but will also allow everyone to track and trace in case of any discrepancy.
Ravi Pinto, Director, Product Management, Oracle Cloud Platform told Analytics India Magazine, “With the help of this platform, the government is now able to track the pharmaceutical products right from the manufacturers to their sales. Each step of the way where the product goes can be tracked with a unique combination of blockchain and IoT.”
A safe medicines supply, which is often missing in countries, is fundamental for public health. The fallout of the falsified medicines can be life-threatening — poisoning, untreated disease, early death, and treatment failure. And it is high time that from government bodies to public companies to a citizen should step in against this wrong.
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