Blockchain Co-Innovation in the Pharmaceutical Industry
Author: Lisa Penski, Project Manager @SAP Innovative Business Solutions, Ireland, working as part of the Blockchain POC Delivery Team, 18/04/18
SAP alongside several co-innovators are currently exploring how innovative technologies such as Blockchain may save the pharmaceutical industry millions, while improving public health and safety. The industry is currently facing a major financial as well humanitarian threat, in the form of counterfeit medication entering the pharmaceutical supply chain and posing a threat to consumers. The World Health Organisation attributes more than 100,000 deaths annually to this issue, with Interpol estimating the total as high as 1 million. In addition, the market has seen an increase in the distribution of fake and potentially dangerous medication, with Interpol seizing a record number of 25 million illicit medicines in 2017.
To counter this issue, new rules and regulations were established on national level across several countries. In the U.S., the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) imposed several mandates, including requirements to serialize, provide product identifier and verify every product sold (see also https://www.hda.org/issues/pharmaceutical-traceability). While there are several solutions in the market able to provide track and trace-ability, and serialization – including SAP Advanced Track and Trace System for Pharmaceuticals (ATTP) and SAP Information and Collaboration Hub for Life Sciences (ICH), the industry still struggles to find a scalable solution which meets the ‘Verification’ requirement mandated by the DSCSA, especially concerning a reverse logistics process, such as Saleable returns.
This issue is of huge concern from a business perspective – in the US alone the total volume of saleable returns runs as high as over 50 million units per year. With the new mandates in place, this number is the total of potential losses for wholesalers or points of dispense along the pharmaceutical supply chain.
SAP has come together with 15 innovation partners in the Life Sciences industry, including AmerisourceBergen, Merck,Sharp & Dohme, McKesson and Upsher Smith, to collaborate on extended proof of concept solution to determine Blockchain’s best possible application to the Industry in the context of verification and saleable returns to meet mandates imposed by the DSCSA. This follows last year’s successful Blockchain Proof of Concept for verification of Saleable Returns (also see last year’s article in Forbes magazine: https://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2017/12/11/blockchain-surge-could-save-pharma-billions/#1d8eade48195 ) for Life Sciences.
“We were delighted to bring this proof of concept to our customers in 2018. This new engagement has a much broader, technically complex scope, along with a signifigantly higher participation – and internally, a brilliant collaboration between many internal teams and organizations”, mentions Ross Doherty, representing the SAP Innovative Business Solutions.
This POC solution is an example of how SAP co-innovates with customers and partners with industry expertise to develop applications of digital technologies such as Blockchain. In this case, we join forces to solve a current business and humanitarian issue, thus impacting positively not only on business but on the lives of end-consumers. Blockchain had been chosen as the technology of choice due to its native transparency and ability to prove provenance of data, where required, thus providing an answer to the DSCSA requirement for verification.
In keeping with SAP’s mission statement, the intention of integrating and leveraging existing and new technologies to find the best possible solution for this pressing industry problem our co-innovation partners and customers are experiencing is – to help the world run better and improve people’s lives.
To learn more about this topic, follow Blockchain tags on the portal, or check out SAP’s Blockchain Co-Innovation program https://www.sap.com/products/leonardo/blockchain.html
Image: Screenshots of the current mobile appication also demoed at TechEd in September 2017
Lisa Penski, Project Manager @SAP Innovative Business Solutions, Ireland, working as part of the Blockchain POC Delivery Team