NITI Aayog, Oracle join hands against counterfeit drugs in India

NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant with Oracle India MD Shailender Kumar during a MoU signing ceremony in New Delhi, on Sept 28, 2018. (Photo: IANS/PIB)

New Delhi (IANS): In a bid to battle the issue of counterfeit drugs in India, NITI Aayog on Friday joined hands with Cloud major Oracle, Apollo Hospitals and global pharmaceutical manufacturer Strides Pharma Sciences to pilot a real drug supply chain, using Blockchain decentralised ledger and Internet of Things (IoT) software.

The collaboration is aimed to bring transparency, accountability and efficiency in tracing and tracking drugs manufactured in the country.

The agreement was signed by Anna Roy, Advisor (Industry), NITI Aayog and Shailender Kumar, Regional Managing Director, Oracle India, in the presence of Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog and Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals.

"India is the third largest producer of generic drugs and vaccines globally and we've been exporting to almost 200 countries. But 20 percent of the drugs being circulated in the Indian market are fake," Kumar told reporters here. 

"Based on the discussion with other stakeholders in the project, we're going to develop a solution on Blockchain and IoT," Kumar added.

According to a recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO), India, as the largest producer of generic drugs in the world, is said to be the source of 35 percent of all counterfeit drugs sold worldwide.

Oracle's Blockchain software permanently registers a drug's record in the manufacturer's drug supply chain (serial number, labelling and scanning), thus leaving very little scope for record tampering. 

At every point of hand change, the software records the drug's movement -- from manufacturer to logistics, from stockist to hospital, or from pharmacy to consumer. 

In case of a fake drug, the software will detect the irregularity and notify the concerned nodal point.

"The agreement with Oracle and our partnership with Apollo Hospitals and Strides Pharma will help ensure all Indian drug manufacturers and healthcare experts have access to a standards-based, modern technology platform -- Blockchain and IoT -- to eliminate fake drug distribution," Kant emphasized.

Oracle IoT also provides functionality to track critical information such as chemical ingredients of the drug or maintenance of temperature control in case of life-saving drugs or vaccines.

"With Blockchain, every movement of the drug through its supply chain is recorded. That way, the drug supply chain is completely transparent, secure, decentralised and verifiable. We believe Blockchain and IoT can play a significant role in ceasing fake drug distribution," Kumar added.

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