Fantom fleshes out role of Chekkit in Afghan medicines pilot

Further details have emerged from a blockchain-based medicines traceability system starting a pilot study in Afghanistan, first announced in July.

The company supplying the blockchain for the project – Fantom – has expanded on the format of the pilot in a blog post that focuses on the role of Nigerian company Chekkit Technologies, which is providing the product authentication and supply chain tracking technology.

Manufacturers of 80,000 medicinal product packs included in the pilot will use Chekkit’s platform to generate unique identifiers for the packs – in the form of QR codes – that will be stored on the blockchain network.

In addition to a serial number, the IDs will include a product stock-keeping unit (SKU), production date, expiry date, and registration number.

The codes are supplied as scratch-off sticker labels that are applied to the medicine pack. When the QR code is exposed Afghans can verify the authenticity of the drugs by scanning it using a dedicated Chekkit app – and see other pertinent information such as expiry date.

Similar approaches – sometimes using SMS messages for verification rather than a smartphone app – have been used by other suppliers such as mPedigree, Sproxil, PharmaSecure and Kezzler in Africa, India, and various other parts of the world.

Fantom says Chekkit’s experience in Nigeria – which like Afghanistan suffers from high levels of falsified medicines – makes it an ideal partner for the project.  

The Chekkit labels also contain taggants which can be verified using hand-held devices at various points in the supply chain, including at a medicine’s point of entry into Afghanistan as well as during in-store inspections of drug retail outlets.

The system will be used to track the movement of pharmaceutical products from when they leave the warehouse and through every point in the supply chain.

“When a product is verified, data like the location of purchase, time of verification, product verified, and so on, is collected and is made available to the product manufacturers in real-time,” says Fantom in the blog post.

“Even better, surveys have been tied into the verification process and consumers have to answer the 2 or 3 questions attached to a product to win a reward” in the form of loyalty points for a raffle, it continues.

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