A group of UK-based companies is putting their heads together to envision and develop connected supply chains and digital infrastructure for the pharmaceutical industry. The goal is to help build a system that can empower smart manufacturing systems and the discovery and development of novel medications down the road.
The latest grant awarded to the consortium constitutes just part of a £53m investment from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Made Smarter, with blockchain specialist FarmaTrust pitching in with expertise on the use of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies for the delivery and interoperability of future medicines supply chains. Raja Sharif, CEO of FarmaTrust, discussed the consortium with Outsourcing-Pharma and explained why such solutions are necessary for the future of the industry.
OSP: Could you please share a short description of FarmaTrust—who you are, what you do, key capabilities, and what sets you apart from other companies in this arena?
RS: FarmaTrust is a digital supply chain solution and technology provider for pharmaceutical supply chains – we use distributed ledger technology (blockchains) to create end-to-end transparency and unalterable supply chain records to ensure safety and authenticity of pharmaceutical products. Our mission is to protect patients, eliminate counterfeit products, increase efficiency, and provide advanced data analytics tools.
OSP: Please explain what we mean when we use the term “digital supply chain.”
RS: A digital supply chain is simply a digital record of all parts of the supply chain including has custodianship, where the product has been, for how long, and even under what conditions – it means we track in real time exactly where a pharmaceutical therapy is and this makes it far, far harder for medicines to leave the supply chain for counterfeits to enter.
OSP: Could you please explain the concept of smart medicine, why it’s beneficial to patients, and how FarmaTrust’s technology will help advance it?
RS: Taking the digital supply chain, we have the ability to enter an increasing number of stakeholders into the supply chain using smart contracts and this means we open up the possibility of having a digital prescription sent between doctors, direct to manufacturers, and or even pharmacies. This consortium is to show a proof of concept of how a fully functioning smart supply chain could operate between healthcare providers, manufacturers, pharma companies, and even pharmaceutical machinery.
FarmaTrust technology will underpin all of this and created an interoperable but crucially immutable record between stakeholders. Without digital ledger technology, the next staged in digital healthcare and smart medicine supply chains will be unworkable.
OSP: Does the group have any short- or long-term goals you would be willing to share?
RS: In the longer term we have very clear goals in that we want to transform how we transmit data and secure medicines in the supply chain – and we are talking right down to the individual patient's dosage. For example, we have developed the technology in the last few years for 3D printed formulations – but we have no way yet to introduce this – and FarmaTrust technology will empower healthcare providers to transmit these individual dosage requirements between doctors and perhaps the pharmacy at which the final formulation is created - while creating an immutable record for the pharma company and healthcare providers.
While this will clearly nearly remove the ability for counterfeit medicines to enter the supply chain it also opens up the possibility for real time dosage requirements, individual dosing, personalized medicine, and automated supply chain control and stock management – think a healthcare system that works more like amazon than a desperate compilation of many actors.