The true power of revolutionary technology lies in its transformative capabilities; how does it impact the lives of a common man. Truly disruptive technology has changed the world, for good and bad. In recent times, two technologies that rank highest in their disruptive capabilities are Blockchain and AI. While still in their nascent stages, there are a few companies and project putting them to good use to solve some of humanity’s biggest problems. Take FarmaTrust for instance;
According to their official communications, FarmaTrust has created a platform which eliminates counterfeit drugs, creates efficiencies in the pharmaceutical industry, and allows the purchase of genuine drugs anywhere and online. Built on the blockchain, their system utilizes artificial intelligence and big data analysis to achieve this.
The industry and its problems
It is estimated that the pharmaceutical industry is valued at a whopping a US$1 trillion industry, and generates some of the highest profits among all the commercial sectors. It is not without its flaws. According to the FarmaTrust team, it is currently struggling with numerous challenges as a result of criminal enterprises, ineffective stock control and lack of visibility of its supply chain.
The FarmaTrust team further adds that such dynamics affect the most vulnerable members of society – sick people fighting against cancer, HIV, malaria, and other life-threatening diseases. Blockchain technology has the potential to fundamentally transform this industry, and will significantly help address these challenges.
Listed in their whitepaper are 5 key problems that the pharma industry currently faces –
- The proliferation of Counterfeit Drugs: Fake drugs result in the death of hundreds of thousands of individuals each year. As shown in this paper, organized crime has infiltrated the pharmaceutical supply chain because of high profits and lenient sentencing.
- The increase of Online/Digital Prescriptions: The increase in online purchases and the growing acceptability of “virtual prescriptions” have made it far easier for counterfeiters to set up fake online pharmacies, with law enforcement agencies struggling to permanently shut them down. 5
- The Regulatory Environment: As threats to pharmaceutical company profitability are increasing, the regulatory burden is increasing as well, and the patent cliff is becoming more dangerous: The most profitable drugs will soon be produced by lower margin generic producers. Such dynamics affect the most vulnerable members of society – sick people fighting against cancer, HIV, malaria and other life-threatening diseases.
- Chain Inefficiencies: Such inefficiencies distort the price of medicines as well as reduce the R&D budgets of many pharmaceutical companies. The inefficient supply chain also means there are shortages in some countries and oversupply in others.
- Growing demand for ‘personalized’ medicines: The growing demand for ‘personalized’ medicines requires a secure, transparent and permission-less solution which is accepted globally.
The FarmaTrust Platform
The FarmaTrust team believes that the solution to the aforementioned problems is to track pharmaceuticals through a supply chain that links digital systems to pharmaceuticals moving in the physical world. This is important because when you add a unique digital reference to a drug and a physical copy of that drug, it is much harder to erase or duplicate one without the other and therefore enables accurate tracking through the supply chain.
With a unique ID combined with a digital supply chain, the FarmaTrust solution will reduce or eliminate copies or undocumented drugs getting into the supply system. “When you have a unique digital identity and the physical item moving through the supply chain it is easier to spot any potential fakes or compromised items entering the supply chain,” a team member said.
Their platform Zoi is a distributed and interoperable pharmaceutical supply chain exchange (SCE) to realise the above solution with Blockchain as the underlying technology. The platform aims to perform the following functions –
- Provide pharmaceuticals companies, their packages, distributors, pharmacies and regulators the visibility needed to make critical decisions that can greatly reduce supply chain costs;
- Identify gaps across varying compliance regimes, recoup costs lost through counterfeits; and Protect consumers and brand through reduction of fake pharmaceuticals that find their way into the supply chain.
According to their whitepaper, the platform will create a network of pharmaceutical brands, contract manufacturers and suppliers, logistics and shipping companies, wholesalers and distributors as well as pharmacies and hospitals. This network will then become a trusted system to ensure that medicines and related products are indeed the genuine product.
The intended benefit of using FarmaTrust is as follows –
FarmaTrust is a web-based, peer to peer platform designed to keep an immutable record of every legitimate drug produced. Using the Blockchain technology, it is at the forefront of preventing counterfeit drugs getting into the supply and therefore preventing death and suffering of patients, be it in the developed or the developing world.
Further, the use of AI and machine learning technologies also benefit commercial operations of the pharmaceutical industry, increasing efficiency and revenues.
In recent times, there has been a nice uptake in the number of supply chain startups. We like the industry focus of FarmaTrust; rather than going after supply chain as a whole, a large enough industry niche focus can help build better, a more customised product. Their experienced team is another plus and their advisory board is stellar and relevant.
The product is still in its MVP stage, so it remains to be seen how this project performs in the market, but their team and vision certainly seems to suggest that this is a project worth watching out for in the coming months. It was also reported recently that they partnered with the Mongolian government to pilot FarmaTrust.
Participate in their token sale here – https://www.farmatrust.io/