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Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Packing Sourcer

Blocking Counterfeits

The epidemic of counterfeit pharmaceuticals entering the supply chain is a serious cause for concern. Repercussions may include lawsuits, damage to a brand’s image, and, worse, health-related incidents. This issue has left pharmaceutical companies in search of serialisation methods to counter discrepancies found throughout the supply chain. As these companies look to increase security at multiple touchpoints, many rely on technologies that enable track and trace, and one possible solution with innate tracking capabilities stands out as a strong defensive measure: blockchain. However, blockchain is still in its infancy, and implementation of this new technology poses its own challenges to the current digital infrastructures of many pharma companies. To address these hurdles, three experts share their insights into the use of blockchain as an avenue to counter disruption in the supply chain and more.

Keeping up with the Counterfeiters

With counterfeiters becoming more advanced, the difficulty increases in distinguishing real products from imitations. Often, expired products are stolen, repacked, and relabelled with falsified dates and dosage information. Merely examining packaging and corresponding labels is no longer enough to verify the authenticity of a product, especially since machinery used to repackage these products is often as sophisticated as that utilised by original manufacturers.

As a result, pharma companies − alongside manufacturers from many other industries − are turning their attention to blockchain as a possible approach to creating an easy-tofollow trail of verification. Successful implementation of blockchain solutions can prevent haphazard drugs from entering the system by verifying each transaction along the supply chain and securely storing product information. However, real-world application is still in a concept phase. While this technology may prove to be a viable way to track and trace a product, pharma companies may hesitate to implement due to the wide availability of product information to anyone in the supply chain with access to the network. Still, blockchain could serve as a viable solution to assist in combatting the growing epidemic of counterfeit drugs so long as advancements to the technology and process alleviate these concerns. In the meantime, pharma companies are putting their eggs in multiple baskets by exploring other methodologies for counterfeit prevention that are checked when they arrive in the facilities, including the use of covert tags with radio frequency identification technology, bar codes, or web portals. This helps companies verify the authenticity of their product once it arrives after distribution.

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Tom Egan serves as the Vice President of Industry Services at PMMI, the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies. Tom joined the PMMI staff in 2003 following more than 20 years in the packaging industry, during which he was also an active PMMI member. His previous work experience includes tenures at Eaton Corp. and Vice President, Marketing and Sales, for Hoppmann Corporation. He has an MBA from Baldwin-Wallace College, US, and a BEE in Electrical Engineering from Villanova University, US.

For over 20 years, Rick Fox has been the President and CEO at FOX IV Technologies, a manufacturer and integrator of automated identification and labelling systems sold globally. Rick is a member of the Board of Governors for the Material Handling Industry Trade Association. Rick is past Chairman of the Board and a current member of the President's Advisory Council at PMMI. Rick is also currently a member of the GS1 BC & ID TG, the Global Bar Code Technology Committee for GS1.

Bill McBeath is co-founder and Chief Research Officer at ChainLink Research, a leading analyst firm since 2002, focused on supply chain, Internet of Things, and blockchain. Bill has conducted over 100 research projects, covering supply chain best practices, use cases, and business implications of technology across manufacturing, wholesale, retail, and logistics sectors. He is a leading researcher and expert on interenterprise processes and business models, and interenterprise technology architectures. Bill has done research on applications of blockchain for supply chain, as well as comparing and contrasting conventional networked Software-as-a- Service systems.
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Tom Egan
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Rick Fox
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Bill McBeath
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