PharmaLedger: Challenges found in Healthcare Supply Chains

Over the past few years, and especially with the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become evident that there are many challenges faced by supply chain processes in the healthcare industry.

Each of the PharmaLedger use cases and their innovations have the potential to help patients receive medical products more efficiently, reliably and in a more trustworthy secure way.

PharmaLedger is a three-year project sponsored by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) and European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (efpia) that brings together a consortium made up of 29 partners who are working together to build a trusted platform using blockchain technology and create many healthcare applications on top of it. The three focus areas of these platforms are Supply Chain, Clinical Trials and Health Data.

PharmaLedger has eight use cases, four of which are linked to Supply Chain. In order to understand the approach PharmaLedger is taking to build a solution through its project and each specific use case, it is important to know the global challenges found in the supply chain process. PharmaLedger is also hosting an open, free webinar “A Trust-Centric Healthcare Journey,” where you can find out more about each use case, and the plan to put these use cases into action for finding a solution. Join us on December 2nd at 2:00 pm CET!


Clinical Supply Traceability Use Case

The Clinical Supply chain process is global and complex, involving multiple parties and thousands of data transactions. It is no wonder that one of the biggest challenges faced in clinical trials is the lack of real-time traceability. Parties in the supply chain can often find out information from a direct partner but it is difficult to access information throughout the entire supply chain. 

Keeping up with regulatory compliance is oftentimes a manual, paper-based process that takes a lot of time and can be quite costly. From a patient’s perspective, there isn’t much insight given into these processes, and there is a wide gap between the start of manufacturing healthcare products, to the end of the patient. Creating more trust and including the patients in these processes can create a sense of empowerment, which can be done by integrating these processes on a single source of truth shared among all the participants. 

PharmaLedger plans on addressing these challenges using blockchain technology to improve clinical supply transparency and enable clinical trials more efficiently. You can find out more information and the added value the PharmaLedger’s Clinical Trial Traceability Use Case can bring by joining our webinar!


Finished Goods Traceability Use Case

Once products are approved by regulators in the clinical trial process, these medicines are ready to be sent out into the world. That’s where the traceability of finished goods comes into play. Today’s healthcare supply chain provides no end-to-end traceability from the time medicines are made, to how they get to the patient. Due to this lack of traceability throughout the distribution chain, there is an unclear view on demand, which can lead to costly situations of scarcity or overstocking. 

After these medicines make it to the end user, they become quite difficult to trace. This can become dangerous in the chance of a drug recall, especially if it is of substandard quality or can be damaging to health. Another challenge is that there is a large amount of information throughout these tracking and shipment processes that are inaccessible, or there is a roadblock due to incompatible technology interfaces. There is already a lot of data and different types of technology being used throughout the finished goods supply chain, but it might be difficult to be able to translate this data in a way to make sense of it and use it to create more efficiency. 

How is PharmaLedger using blockchain technology to connect those involved in the supply chain and accelerate seamless data sharing? You can find out the answer and the added value to this in PharmaLedger’s “A Trust-Centric Healthcare Journey” webinar.


Electronic Product Information (EPI) Use Case

You have most likely encountered a paper leaflet when opening medicine. These leaflets contain important information, such as how to take the medicine or any side effects. These costly leaflets are highly regulated, and often hard to read because of the small, confusing print. This is where we begin to face problems. What happens when some information needs to be updated on these already printed leaflets? The process of doing so is a lengthy process, which limits patients in getting the most up-to-date information. Not to mention, it’s not very eco-friendly.

Digitising these leaflets isn’t a new idea, but there needs to be a newly designed digital trusted source where patients can go to for this information. Can blockchain technology help with digitising these EPIs? You can find out how Pharmaledger’s EPI Use Case is being used to address this issue and add value throughout the healthcare supply chain in our webinar.


Anti-Counterfeit and Supply Chain Security Use Case

Counterfeited medicine and illicit trade is a global problem that poses a threat to public health and safety. Low quality and fake medicine can be detrimental to patients’ health, which in the worst case can even lead to death. There is also a loss of trust in doctors and the healthcare system when a patient encounters counterfeit medicine. One in ten medical products in developing countries have been found to be substandard or falsified (WHO 2017). 

Another problem with counterfeit medicine is that it can have an economic impact when additional treatment is required to treat the adverse effects of those affected. Governments also must dedicate resources to deal with regulations against counterfeit medicines. With illegal organisations selling these medicines online, it has been easier now more than ever to purchase something, yet it is often difficult to distinguish counterfeit versus real medicine. This can also be seen in today’s pandemic when fraudulent  Covid-19 test kits are being reported. Once a vaccine is presented, a large volume will be globally circulated, laying the perfect groundwork for counterfeit medicine.

PharmaLed’gers Anti-Counterfeit Use Case builds ontop of the previously mentioned EPI Use Case by adding additional checks to make sure medicine in the supply chain is authentic. Find out how exactly the PharmaLedger project is planning on addressing this major concern by participating in our webinar!


You can find out how PharmaLedger is planning to address these challenges in the recording of our first open webinar: “A Trust-Centric Healthcare Journey,” where you can find out the latest development on PharmaLedger’s supply chain use cases.

In addition, we’re hosting our 2nd Open Webinar, “A Trust-Centric Healthcare Journey Part II” covering our 4 remaining use cases around Clinical Trials and Health Data on February 24th and March 3rd. We hope to see you there!


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