When a patient picks up a prescription from their local pharmacy, there’s a chance the process itself turns into a headache. Four billion prescriptions were dispensed at US pharmacies in 2019 and even conservative estimates suggest that over 100 million prescriptions may be incorrectly dispensed. With that in mind, blockchain solution providers are joining forces with healthcare leaders to put better tools into the hands of pharmacists working to ensure the right drugs reach the right people.
“Despite the best efforts of pharmacists, things slip through the cracks,” says Ben Taylor, CEO of LedgerDomain, an enterprise-grade blockchain solutions provider known for its work on developing the next generation of healthcare and pharmaceutical supply chains. “You’re getting the wrong drug, you’re getting an expired drug, you’re getting someone else’s drug. We’re getting drugs from another country that might not even be approved for use in the U.S.”
It doesn’t help that there is no universal database that serves as an official record for all the medications criss-crossing the United States. Instead, the pharmaceutical supply chain is “a patchwork of traditional databases… an underperforming, old-style, paper-based supply chain,” says Taylor.
All of these factors make it exponentially harder to catch human errors and easier for criminals to infiltrate with man-in-the-middle attacks and introduce counterfeits within the pharmaceutical industry.
“Most of the time, problems are discovered before they can reach the patient, but you really don’t know how many fakes are out there because there’s no way to keep bad actors from pranking the unsuspecting,” says Taylor. “That’s why some people last year went to pick up a bottle of Oxycontin and got a bottle of Aleve.“