Boehringer, SAP blockchain app authenticates medicines

SAP and Boehringer Ingelheim have joined forces on the development of a smart app that is designed to track, trace and authenticate prescription medicines in the US.

The app is aimed at law enforcement such as Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection and others, helping them to detect illicit, counterfeit or unapproved Boehringer medicines being smuggled into the country or sold illegally, by scanning the 2D barcode on packaging.

The app taps into SAP's earlier efforts to eliminate counterfeit products with SAP Information Collaboration Hub for Life Sciences, a blockchain tool that allows users to authenticate pharmaceutical packaging as it moves between manufacturers and wholesalers, hospitals, and pharmacies.

The app uses the device's camera to scan a 2D barcode, read the serialised product data within it, and sends a verification request to Boehringer's database.

The agent in the field gets a verdict on authenticity back quickly. He or she can then enter additional data such as the location and shipment route of the product, and a video or picture of the medicine, if it is suspected to be falsified.

If there are multiple verification scans of the same pack, for example, it could indicate that a product has been counterfeited with the same code copied and used multiple times.

"The law enforcement smart app utilises SAP's scalable and secure blockchain solution for manufacturers to drastically improve the pharmaceutical supply chain from start to finish," said SAP's global general manager for consumer industries, Matt Laukaitis.

"As this app demonstrates, vertical industry expertise is a critical success factor in delivering innovations to protect patients and ensure access to authentic, life-enhancing medicines," he added.

The two partners said the app is designed to work in conjunction with the labelling requirements of the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA), which was first passed in 2013 and is due to be implemented fully in two years' time.

The DSCSA aims to boost the FDA's ability to protect US patients by developing a connected, digital system to trace prescription drugs throughout the country and identify counterfeit, stolen or contaminated medicine before it reaches the hands of consumers.

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