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Drugs on the Block

A major topic of discussion during the Democratic presidential primaries was the rising cost of healthcare and the costs of prescription drugs. This discussion also touched on the seeming free reign and lack of adequate oversight of prescription drug companies. I think most people are familiar with the outrageous costs of some prescription drugs (despite the manufacturing costs being significantly lower), but there's another issue that pops up in this discussion. And that issue is the lack of comprehensive tracking of prescription drugs. Enter: blockchain.

In a nutshell, pharmaceutical drugs are manufactured and shipped to distributors and then from distributors to stores and healthcare facilities. The movement of drugs doesn't always flow in a single direction. Drugs are sometimes moved from one store/facility to another or even back to the distributor. All of this movement creates profitable opportunities for counterfeiters, thieves and other evildoers.

Congress decided that there needed to be improvements in the electronic tracking and tracing of pharmaceutical drugs and the Food & Drug Administration has pushed for that change to occur quickly. There are various pilot programs happening--several of which deploy blockchain technology. It seems that the results have been promising so far. Stay tuned!

Have you ever had a "bad batch" of drugs? Do you think blockchain can minimize the impact of these types of incidents? Let me know on Twitter at @blockchainblawg.

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