The adoption of blockchain technology will address the problem of counterfeit medicines threatening the country’s pharmaceutical sector, experts have said.
The CEO of Hyperspace Technologies, Oluseyi Akindeinde, stated that blockchain would help to serialise pharmaceutical products and assign security features that would be verifiable by scanning the product.
Akindeinde told Sunday PUNCH that pharmaceutical products could be protected by using encrypted non-fungible token tags integrated into the products to create unique identities.
Encrypting an NFT means protecting information using a special code. This makes sure that only authorised people with the right code can see details like who owns it or any attached data, adding extra security for digital assets on the blockchain.
Fake drugs remain one of the biggest problems in the pharmaceutical sector, estimated to hit $5.3bn this year, according to the Goldstein Market Intelligence analyst forecast.
Recently, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control announced that it destroyed fake and expired goods worth over N500m in Abuja.
The regulator explained that some of the destroyed drugs were made up of psychoactive and controlled substances like antibiotics, antihypertensives, antimalarials, herbal snuff, herbal remedies, and drugs confiscated from drug hawkers.
According to the United Nations, substandard drugs lead to 500,000 deaths annually in sub-Saharan Africa.
Of those, 267,000 were linked to fake antimalarial drugs, and 169,271 deaths resulted from substandard antibiotics for severe pneumonia.
Further, Hyperspace Technologies CEO explained that on the blockchain there are entities known as smart contr acts, which are like unchangeable lines of code.
He said each product receives a unique identification tag that’s affixed to the product’s packaging within a smart contract, which makes it impossible to manipulate.
“It offers a straightforward way for customers to verify the authenticity of products by scanning them with their smartphones. This technology has the potential to significantly reduce the risk of counterfeit drugs in the pharmaceutical industry, Akindeinde said.
He said fake drugs not only endanger lives but also undermine the integrity of the entire industry.
Akindeinde added that legitimate pharmaceutical companies suffer reputational damage, and the nation’s healthcare system grapples with diminished trust because of fake drugs.
Also, the Director and Team Lead at Sirfitech, Adewale Kayode, told The PUNCH that blockchain provides authentication and transparency.
He said that the technology could be deployed right from the raw materials to manufacturing and other value chains.
Kayode explained, “The entire process of the supply chain can be captured in the blockchain – the name, the identity number, the laboratory, the registered number, expiry date, manufacturing date and every single data that is necessary.
“Then use this data to create a DiD (Decentralised Identity) accessed via a web3 wallet. At the end of the day, what you will have is a barcode that you can scan with any compatible web3 wallet. Its job is to tell you if it is fake or authentic without revealing the actual data of the drug.”
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