An Indian government think tank is working on a blockchain solution aimed to combat the country's roaring counterfeit drugs trade.
The National Institution for Transforming India, known as NITI Aayog, aims to have a proof-of-concept (PoC) of the solution completed by the end of 2018 and begin rolling it out next year, according to local news source Factor Daily,
An anonymous NITI Aayog official was cited as saying:
"We are all taking those [fake] medicines and I am sure people are dying. One way to reduce that is put the entire supply chain on the blockchain."
According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, India produces 35 percent of counterfeit drugs that are sold globally. Furthermore, the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham), states that around "60-70 percent of dietary supplements being sold across India are fake, counterfeit, unregistered and unapproved."
NITI Aayog hopes to counter this state of affairs by generating a unique ID number for each medicine, which will be tracked through the supply chain on a blockchain, the official explained. With the system, a consumer or business can access the history and source of the drug by scanning a QR code or barcode on the medicine.
The project has reportedly got the green light from the country's pharmaceutical industry, despite some cost concerns.
Dilip G. Shah, secretary general of the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance, a lobby group, said:
"Fake drugs are a concern and, if blockchain can help the industry get rid of the problem, we are up for it."
The project is also in line with the Indian governments' vision to explore blockchain technology "for ushering in [a] digital economy," as stated by the country's finance minister Arun Jaitley during his budget speech in February.
NITI Aayog also stated earlier this year that it is developing other proofs-of-concept to explore blockchain tech in sectors including education, health and agriculture.
Rupee and drugs image via Shutterstock