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Rubix by Deloitte Explains Blockchain use for the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain


Iliana Oris Valiente, the co-founder of Deloitte Rubix blockchain group made a fundamental presentation last June in Missouri where she pointed out that in the pharmaceutical chain there are many cases where the procedures stop due to no transparency and limited planning.

Their company is based in Toronto and their team focuses on technology to build higher level decentralized applications, while already being the biggest advisory practice in the world.  In her speech, she pointed out some of those cases and explained how blockchain technology can apply to those, especially the ability to track the origins of assets.

Several startups like CargoChain or EverLedger have used the application of tracking assets on the blockchain at an early stage and have suggested several solutions for that. She concentrated on blockchain in the health industry; specifically on the supply of pharmaceutical drugs. She mentioned three areas that could benefit from blockchain technology:

–        Drug Security; how drugs are made.

–        Drug transportation; how drugs move from the producer to the consumer.

–        Safety of the public; consumer issues with drugs.

Starting with drug security, she made a few points:

·       Tracing pharmaceutical ingredients during production is very difficult.

·       Discovering drugs that by accident do not contain the ingredients that they should, can harm patients.

·       Studying fake drugs is useful because they cause approximately 200 billion USD loss every year.

·       Using the blockchain characteristics of being unchangeable and also the ability to track data can be used to trace drugs from production to consumer, therefore check where the chain stops.

Regarding drug transportation, she also mentioned that there are many connections in the supply procedure, with several computer systems which do not match, so most times the producer cannot follow the whole trip of the drugs from the factory to the pharmacy and then to the consumer. This drug trip incudes:

–        Pharmaceutical companies and pharmacy stores are involved in marketing the drugs with several ways such as coupons, offers, advertising in order to increase the product exposure.  You cannot really tell which drug has the higher sales.

–        The drugs return procedure is not very clear, with many discounts occurring on the same batch of drugs and therefore the quantity of the drugs in the market is not clear. This makes fake drugs undiscoverable.

–        Several companies get paid to do research on how pharmaceutical companies move which is costly and this can be eliminated with a blockchain-tracking network linking all components of the chain.

In reference to the safety of the public she mentioned that by reviewing the pharmaceutical supply network is not about the companies and their profits; it’s about understanding where this network breaks and what consequences this has for the mass population, which is a very big problem.

Blockchain technology might affect the following fields regarding public safety:

–        Recollection management; fake drugs are killing approximately one million people every year, around the world.

–        Violent treatment for prescribing drugs which is possible when there are no healthcare records available in hospitals, pharmacies, and doctors.

In reference to the practical ways to apply blockchain in the drugs’ supply network, she said that among her use cases there were several similarities including entities required in each supply network.

Resolving existing supply network issues needs to be approached by some specific steps. It is not essential yet to follow the drug’s journey from its ingredients to the patient.

Ideally, she wants to see an ultimate environment where a number of supply-network-oriented private blockchains would co-exist with public ones.

Rubix by Deloitte wants to help develop business applications that would sustain the blockchain-based supply networks.