Improving the Transparency of the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain through the Adoption of Quick Response (QR) Code, Internet of Things (IoT), and Blockchain Technology: One Result: Ending the Opioid Crisis

Justin D. Evans

Abstract


Over the past two years, Americans in nearly every state have suffered adverse effects from counterfeit medications, many of whom have died. The main culprit is Fentanyl-tainted counterfeit opiates which often lead to fatal overdoses. The increasing epidemic of counterfeit prescription medications extends beyond social classes, gender, race, and age. For instance, pop star Prince recently overdosed on counterfeit Hydrocodone containing synthetic Fentanyl. Shockingly, one in ten medications sold in developing countries are counterfeit; either containing incorrect doses of active ingredients or containing toxic contaminants retained from the production process. The popularity of counterfeit medications stems from cheaper costs, but also because of the ease with which these counterfeit products can be purchased. While the blockchain has gained its fame from Bitcoin, its potential implications are far reaching. In this paper, I propose the use of QR code and the IoT (Internet of Things) sensor devices leveraging the blockchain for increased transparency of the pharmaceutical supply chain and manufacturing process. The data collected from the devices would then be transferred to the blockchain, enabling consumers to use an app to verify the provenance of their medication.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/tlp.2019.227

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