Blockchain technology has shown its considerable adaptability in recent years as a variety of market sectors have sought to find ways of incorporating its abilities into their operations. While so far most of the focus has been on the financial services industry, this is beginning to change, as a recent announcement of a project proposed by global professional services company Accenture shows. They plan on using the Blockchain technology that underpins all digital currencies to combat the problem of counterfeit drugs within the pharmaceutical industry. Is it feasible and what does it mean for blockchain?
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The adaptability of blockchain technology to a huge number of applications has been one of the driving forces in the increased interest that the technology has been showing over the last few years. The latest market to see blockchain as a solution for its organizational and ledger needs is the drug industry. At a recent meeting of the Hyperledger Blockchain project, a project designed to fight the problems of counterfeit drugs using blockchain technology was outlined by representatives of Accenture, the global professional services company.
The project itself proposes to use blockchain to track medicines using immutable data, providing increased levels of accountability within the pharmaceutical industry and offering a way of discerning the counterfeit drugs that are becoming increasingly common. The problem has become so widespread in fact, that recent moves to combat the phenomenon saw $74 million of counterfeit medical goods seized globally in a single investigation. The problem includes both completely fake imitation drugs, as well as products from established companies that simply do not contain the active ingredients they are meant to, essentially selling placebos to customers. The method proposed for combatting this involved using blockchain to provide distributed time-stamping within the supply chain, ensuring products have the ingredients claimed.
While the focus is understandably mostly on digital currencies themselves as well as the financial industry’s moves to incorporate blockchain technology, it is perhaps these alternative uses of the distributed ledger model that are even more intriguing to see develop. While wider spread use of blockchain will always have benefit for the cryptocurrency industry itself, this is technology that is being adapted to make real difference in a huge variety of industries and markets. As here, a reduction in fake drugs could even save lives, and this is surely something the industry should embrace. It is easy to get caught up in the drive to promote digital currency adoption constantly, but ultimately the industry has always been at its core based on providing something new, and alternative that empowers people. Blockchain is attempting to make that a reality everywhere, not just in our financial transactions.