Using the blockchain to crack down on fraud, IP infringement and counterfeit medicines - saving lives, saving money, and slowing the development of drug resistance


Technologies Used

Ionic Framework
Chain Core

Project Team

Mohamed Amine

This team is looking for

Product Manager Investor


The WHO estimates that 10% of all medicines supplied globally are falsified. The health and economic repercussions of this cannot be overestimated. In Europe alone, €10.2 billion is lost each year due to fake medicines being produced and distributed (source: European Union Intellectual Property Office Observatory report, 2016). But it’s not just a monetary cost, an estimated 1,000,000 lives are lost every year due to fake and counterfeit medicines. With malaria alone, fake, sub-standard and ineffective drugs claim the lives of 200,000 people per year, many of them young children. Criminals find weak links in supply chains and falsified or poor quality drugs can enter the chains, getting dispensed to patients with dire consequences. At best, there is no active ingredient and nothing that could further harm the patient, at worst, fake pharmaceuticals can cause deaths and even lead to the development of drug resistant strains of pathogens - such as malaria. At MedChain we are committed to developing a system for tracking the journey of medicines from patent to patient. Using the blockchain to register all transactions from the point of manufacture, via wholesalers, transporters and pharmacies, through to the patient. We believe that the permanent immutable ledger created with blockchain could be the key to cracking down on pharmaceutical fakes - and we aim to save not just money, but lives as well. By creating an easily verifiable and trusted record that can show the exact movement of medication through the complex medical supply chains that exist around the world - often involving a multitude of transactions, we aim to minimise the risk of counterfeit or expired drugs being dispensed to patients. Manufacturers already undertake quality assurances on the drugs they produce, and each batch is given unique number. By recording the date of manufacture, the drug’s chemical profile, and assigning a batch number, transactions during the drugs’ journeys can be tracked in the blockchain. This will include a record of the physical movement of medicines from manufacturers, to wholesalers, distributors and finally pharmacies and patients, authenticated using MedChain to scan QR codes to verify the physical exchange of good has taken place between the correct people. Pharmacies purchasing drugs can use the information in the blockchain to verify the path taken by a drug to determine whether it was handled by legitimate companies, thus guarding them against the dangers of the “grey market” where providence of the medicine cannot always be known. This is especially important in low- and middle-income countries where there tend to be far more secondary drug distributors (already known to be the weakest link in the chain) involved in the supply chain, and not all of these are properly equipped to deal with stocks of a medicinal nature. The manifold benefits of a verified record of pharmaceutical supply include: reduction of risk of fraud (affecting profit margins of legitimate drug manufacturers), reduction of risk that pharmacies are supplying drugs that are ineffective, harmful or expired, and slowing the development of drug resistant forms of disease by ensuring only fully effective medicines are prescribed (of critical importance in the cases of malaria, tuberculosis and HIV). MedChain will also empower patients to verify their medication, by allowing them to enter the batch number together with the pharmacy’s ID number, and receive confirmation that the medicine only moved between legitimate companies - or a warning that the medicine requires further investigation. We want to enable people to “trust the medicine you take”.