Blockchain for pharma: DHL, Imperial and Authentag embrace ledger tech

By Flora Southey

- Last updated on GMT

Three contract services firms have launched separate Blockchain-based initiatives, in a bid to increase pharmaceutical supply chain security.

Blockchain – a digital ledger technology which records data in a secure, chronological way – has attracted attention in the pharmaceutical industry, as US​ and European​ serialisation deadlines approach.

Last week, logistics firm DHL announced a collaboration with technology provider Accenture, to team serialization services with product verification, using a Blockchain ledger platform.

The firms have created a ‘prototype simulation’ service, in order to track and trace pharmaceutical products throughout the entire supply chain.

“By sharing databases between multiple parties, Blockchain essentially removes the need for intermediaries who were previously required to act as trusted third parties to verify, record and coordinate transactions,” ​said DHL in its Blockchain in Logistics​ report.

“By facilitating the move from a centralised to a decentralised and distributed system, Blockchain effectively liberates data that was previously kept in safeguarded silos,” ​it added.

According to DHL, a major issue in serialization is maintaining traceability and traceability.

“Especially when these units are repackaged or aggregated from unit to case to pallet for logistics purposed, and then disaggregated back down to unit level for consumption,”​ the report states.

The logistics firm said Blockchain technology can improve efficiency in global trade, by automating transactions and reducing paperwork.

New-age business models can benefit from blockchain technology, it added

“Micro payments, digital identities, certificates, tamper-proof documents and much more can be introduced and radically improved using Blockchain-based services.”

Blockchain in Africa

Earlier this week, South Africa-headquartered Imperial Logistics announced a Blockchain-based initiative in collaboration One Network Enterprises, to boost supply chain security for pharmaceutical clients.

Under the agreement, Imperial Logistics will employ One Network’s Real Time Value Network (RTVN) to offer serialization and drug authentication services.

One Network said its RTVN “chain-of-custody” ​and serialisation capabilities – based on the firm’s ‘One Blockchain’ platform – enable the logistics firm to track the control, transfer, management and distribution of medicines in real time.

“One Network allows the pharma supply chain to have end to end visibility, in real time, to track, serialize and authenticate medical supplies throughout the supply chain,” ​a One Network spokesperson told us.

“Blockchain enables complete transparency and trust throughout the supply chain, to mitigate risk of theft and counterfeit goods,” ​he added.

According to One Network, the solution will also be used to comply with incoming supply chain regulations in South Africa and other countries.

Distributed Ledger Technology

Yesterday, Authentag announced its Blockchain-based Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) project, designed to provide track and verification services for the pharmaceutical industry.

The firm has traditionally focused on medical device inventory management, but said it aims to extend its offering before the extended US Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) deadline​.

“We’ve been fortunate to have great support from the pharmaceutical industry, who keep impressing on us the need to have a working solution running and in compliance with the FDA by November 2019,” ​said co-founder Stuart Corby.

“Our latest platforms will provide an open source architecture to allow members of the pharmaceutical community to develop their own solutions, improving the safety and security of pharmaceutical products in the US,” ​he added.

Authentag expects the platform to be available for trial before the end of October this year.

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