Zuellig Pharma Blocks Counterfeit Meds with Blockchain


Zuellig Pharma has received the ‘Information Visionary’ award at the second Singapore IDC Digital Transformation Awards 2018. Recognizing the need to drive better innovation and collaboration within the healthcare industry for better healthcare and patient outcomes, the company is determined and has a single-minded focus on digital transformation.

Zuellig Pharma, Asia’s leading healthcare services provider, has recently developed the eZTracker smartphone app, an SAP-powered blockchain platform. Through the app, consumers’ mobile devices become an instant verification tool, tracing barcode on medication to its manufacturer and the country of origin within seconds. Hence, ensuring the authenticity of the drug and the legitimacy of its distribution.

Zuellig Pharma leverages the blockchain technology as a solution to the growing concern on counterfeit drugs distributed around the region. The company acknowledges the fact that keeping track of counterfeit drugs is tedious because it entails the gathering of data from different parties across its supply chain.

Zuellig’s eZTracker App Explained

Zuellig Pharma has already announced its innovative move to combat the distribution of counterfeit drugs through blockchain projects during Fight the Fakes Week in December 2018. The company stated:

 “If a product is fake, alerts will be automatically triggered to the manufacturer and to Zuellig Pharma, together with an instant identification of where the fake product entered the supply chain,” 

Recently this August, Daniel Laverick, Zuellig Pharma’s Head of SAP and IT solutions, elaborated on eZTracker at an SAP regional event in Bangkok. He explained that the SAP blockchain platform captures data from the drug manufacturer upon receiving a drug at its warehouse onto a blockchain.

Laverick added that pertinent information about a drug like drug types and batch numbers are saved on the blockchain from the time it is moved within Zuellig Pharma to being shipped to consumers, hospitals and drug stores. Information about when and where a consumer uses eZTracker to scan the drug’s barcode is also written to the blockchain once it reaches the consumer.

Consumers will be alerted and advised on the actions they can take, such as informing the authorities or to seek treatment if they have already consumed the drug when the drug is deemed a counterfeit.

With regards to parallel imports, Laverick cautioned that although the drug is genuine and has passed through Zuellig Pharma’s supply chain, it might not have been shipped in conditions that guarantee its efficacy. 

The Blockchain Journey Begins

eZTracker is just the beginning of Zuellig Pharma’s blockchain journey. According to Laverick, the supply chain can also benefit from the same technology wherein sensor data about environmental conditions in which drugs are transported can be captured, as well as to facilitate payments and transactions. He stated:

“We have to come to a point where we can get to an open platform that we can collaborate on and put all the data in so that consumers would only need to use one app.” 

With regards to cracking down on counterfeit drugs, Laverick said that the pharmaceutical giant was also looking at providing data that it has captured on its blockchain platform to the authorities. 

According to World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 1 in 10 medical products in low- and middle-income countries is substandard or falsified. These drugs may cause harm to patients and fail to treat the diseases for which they were intended. Zuellig Pharma’s blockchain journey, starting with eZTracker, is one logical and high-minded move to help the industry strengthen its stand on medicine traceability.

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