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The new SAP blockchain project helps eliminate counterfeit drugs

LINFA launched a blockchain-based supply chain tracking system to enable drug wholesalers to authenticate pharmaceutical packaging returned from pharmacies and hospitals. This should help them eliminate counterfeit medicines from their supply chain.

SAP states that it hopes to eventually expand the use of distributed ledger technology to cover a wider range of pharmaceutical supply chain processes.

According to the company, its blockchain-based solution helps customers comply with the US Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA), which states that starting in November 2019 wholesalers must verify prescribed drugs that are returned and to resale. This legislative act is designed to protect consumers from contaminated, stolen or fake medicines.

Counterfeit medicines represent a significant problem in the pharmaceutical industry. A research published by the World Health Organization in 2017 found that approximately 1 out of 10 medical products circulating in low-income countries were either below standard or false.

In the United States, wholesalers meet nearly 60 million returns annually, or about $ 7 billion.

With the new software, customers can check the product code, batch, expiration date and a unique serial number embedded in the barcode with respect to manufacturers' data stored in the blockchain.

It is worth noting that the software was developed in collaboration with other reputable pharmaceutical companies, including Boehringer Ingelheim AG & Co. KG, GlaxoSmithKline plc and Merck Sharp & Dohme.

The news comes after SAP announced two industrial consortia within the SAP Blockchain Consortium program in the fall of last year, but this is not the first time that blockchain technology has been exploited in an attempt to fight counterfeit products in the health sector. In fact, Merck was trying to patent blockchain-based technology to bring more transparency to the supply chain in June 2018.

An immutable ledger like blockchain could prove useful in the health sector, so we're likely to see similar projects that will be launched in the near future.

Published 18 January 2019 at 11:30 UTC

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