Counterfeit Drugs Circulating in Kenya Can Be Stopped With Blockchain

A huge marketplace situated in the heart of Kenya is home to thousands of street hawkers that sell counterfeit medicines and pharmaceutical products to the poor, unemployed and lower segments of the population. This segment, unfortunately, makes up a large chunk of the population thus causing over 100,000 deaths to occur annually in and around these regions.

Africa is the poorest continent in the world with rampant illegal activities thriving in such areas. Measures taken to prevent the sale of counterfeit drugs by authorities have been unsuccessful, considering that police officers have also been allegedly accused of purchasing medicines and drugs from these marketplaces.

“The police hassle us but they themselves buy these medicines,” said a street vendor, who hawks everything from painkillers and antibiotics to anti-malaria and anti-retroviral treatments.

“When we are harassed we always come to an arrangement with them to resume our activities,” she said.

Another hawker says;  “Many people come here with their prescriptions to buy medicine, even the owners of private clinics.”

Can Blockchain be the solution?

IBM‘s research and development lab in Haifa, Israel is applying blockchain technology to prevent fraud and theft along the designated route that pharmaceutical drugs take to reach Kenya and other regions as well.

The objectives and goal behind using blockchain technology are to track, trace and authenticate the drugs at each state along their journey, right from the Pharma company all the way to the patient. Thus, they are able to detect where errors in the system take place.

Using blockchain, the companies and authority will be able to establish a verifiable method of assuring:

  • What is being delivered?
  • Which Company is delivering the products?
  • Who is receiving the products?
  • What is the date of delivery of the product?
  • Where is the product’s current position?

Setting up a trusted network will allow the different parties involved to store information and data knowing that it cannot be altered or deleted, verifying that the authentic drugs are handed over to an authorized party at each transfer point will ensure compliance. The system will make sure a joint verified ledger of all transactions is available at all times.

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