OriginAll joins with blockchain firm on falsified meds system

Two technology companies have joined forces to develop a blockchain-powered system to tackle the twin issues of medicines falsification and preventing diversion of charitable donations.

Switzerland's OriginAll is working with Partisia Blockchain on a system that will combine unique identifiers (UIDs) on medicine packs with digital tokens – known as Healthies – that according to the companies will help to ensure "equitable access to safe, verifiable medicines and healthcare products."

In a nutshell, use of the system means that organisations that donate to charities that provide medicinal products have a way to ensure that their funds can only be used to purchase genuine medicines.

"All Healthies transactions…ensure that the holder is purchasing the intended product (medicine or healthcare service) from an authorised seller and within a predefined time frame," according to the partners.

"Each transaction is tied to the...UID of the legitimate product [and] transactions that don't meet these criteria will fail," they said.

Use of blockchain means that private data about the transactions can be kept confidential, and people who do have access to or use a bank account.

The Healthies tokens are intended both for large-scale organisations and for individual users, for example those who want to send remittances to their loved ones.

"With OriginAll we use this technology to protect the individual patient as well as to enable competing companies to collaborate with sensitive corporate data - both are needed to fight counterfeit medicine," commented Kurt Nielsen, president of Partisia Blockchain.

A 2019 report from the EU-funded ENACT Africa project found that substandard and fake medicines "contribute to the global threat of drug-resistant illness and undermine Africa's ability to achieve…Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)."

Africa is an easy target for medicine counterfeiters because most countries haven’t developed the "armoury of responses" used in other parts of the world, such as robust supply chain regulation, track-and-trace technology and enforcement regimes.

Corruption is another key factor, one that is acknowledged by OriginAll and Partisia Blockchain which say that "many layers of middlemen…disincentivises international NGOs from deploying more funds to improve healthcare across Africa."

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