By Daniel Laverick, Head of SAP & IT Solutions
As preparations get underway for the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines globally, ensuring supply chain safety will be vital. This pandemic has no doubt heightened the dangers posed by the global trade in counterfeit medicines with Interpol recently issuing an alert to law enforcement agencies around the world, warning them that organised crime networks may try to sell fake vaccines. This warning came after the United Kingdom became the first country to grant emergency-use authorisation for a COVID-19 vaccine.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around one in 10 drugs sold in developing countries is either substandard or falsified1. This includes the trade of medicines that may be contaminated, contain the wrong or no active ingredients or may be out-of-date. Serious health and safety issues arise with counterfeit medicines. During a public health crisis such as COVID-19, tackling this global issue becomes even more critical.
To help governments, pharmaceutical companies and healthcare providers combat the trade in fake medicines, Zuellig Pharma launched eZTracker in the region earlier this year. It is the first smartphone application in Asia powered by blockchain technology that ensures product traceability by allowing consumers to verify the authenticity of a medical product by scanning its barcode.
eZTracker enables full traceability during the distribution of medical products even to rural areas throughout the region without compromising its integrity. If an unregistered product is detected, Zuellig Pharma and the medicine’s legitimate manufacturer are immediately notified and can report it to the relevant authorities.
While previous efforts would have taken weeks or even months to detect and withdraw a defective batch of drugs from a market, eZTracker provides an immediate solution that can be used by numerous users to quickly recall the specific drugs in question.
As public awareness and education are essential in addressing the impact of falsified medicines and to overcome hesitation about vaccines, Zuellig Pharma is enhancing eZTracker’s features to include a vaccination tracker.
The tracker is aimed at providing patients confidence that the vaccinations being administered to them are genuine. It will also provide users with reliable information on the vaccine they are receiving, to improve their knowledge and understanding as well as to report any issues or side effects. This is to equip patients with the knowledge to not only avoid the threat of fake vaccines, but more importantly provide assurance and empower them to safeguard their own health. With the ability to confirm product authenticity in real time, doctors can also administer vaccines with confidence.
eZTracker also provides information about registered medical products, including expiry dates and storage instructions. We look forward to seeing our solution in action, providing the healthcare ecosystem with a peace of mind as we make healthcare more accessible for the communities we serve.
To find out more, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.