Afghanistan Approves Blockchain Project to Help Tackle Scourge of Counterfeit Meds

6 July 2020

Blockchain startup Fantom has been given the green light to start tracking medicinal drugs in Afghanistan to help stem the country’s counterfeiting problem.

  • After a signing ceremony with the Afghan Ministry of Health and several pharmaceutical distributors last month, the startup has unveiled details of its Smart Medicine pilot project.
  • The project aims to keep track of pharmaceutical drugs traveling along the supply chain in order to stem the distribution of fake products caused by a lack of appropriate checks.
  • Being able to verify the authenticity of medicines is vital in preventing counterfeit products, Michael Kong, CIO of Fantom, said in a Telegram interview with CoinDesk.
  • Several pharmaceutical companies are involved in the project including Mumbai-listed Indian company Bliss GVS, Afghanistan-based Royal Star and Indian manufacturer Nabros Pharma.
  • Fantom will supply labels to trace 80,000 products created by Nabros and Bliss GVS over Fantom's smart contract platform and Opera blockchain network.
  • The products will cover four areas of pharmaceuticals including 50,000 hand sanitizers, 10,000 joint creams, 10,000 Kofol chewable tablets and 10,000 Diacare foot creams.
  • The pilot will demonstrate how scanning product data to a blockchain can create an immutable record, Kong said.
  • The startup will design shipping labels that are to be scanned by Royal Star at every stage of the distribution process.
  • Labels can be checked on Fantom's platform and will contain a unique hash code that can be publicly verified on-chain and includes 11 data points.
  • These data points will be able to verify the product name, batch number, barcode number, expiry date, production date, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) number, producer’s name, location of scan, the status of the scan, and time and date of a scan. 
  • The project is also collaborating with Nigeria-based blockchain startup Chekkit which is providing a QR code scanning system in the audit trail to guarantee products are not tampered with.
  • Counterfeit drugs are responsible for the deaths of thousands of people every year, with inferior or useless products ranging from cancer treatment to antimalarial pills.
  • One in 10 medical products in developing countries is substandard or falsified, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • The announcement of the pilot follows on from a formal partnership agreed between Fantom and the Afghan government to establish a blockchain initiative for public health last November.
  • The startup was given a mandate to invent a solution for detecting counterfeit drugs, Kong confirmed.

See also: VeChain to Develop Drug-Tracing Platform for Pharma Giant Bayer