A blockchain solution has unveiled bold plans to make the United Kingdom’s medicine market safer by creating a system that prevents patients from ordering the same prescription from multiple pharmacies while stopping counterfeit drugs from making their way into the supply chain.
MediConnect states that introducing new safeguarding for the public and the health care industry can save money and potentially lives. The motivation for the startup came after the company’s founders discovered the extent and impact of oversupply via the National Health Service (NHS) and private health care providers.
A lack of data sharing means patients can make multiple prescription orders across several websites in a matter of minutes — an issue of concern for regulators given the growing levels of drug dependency and addiction in the U.K. MediConnect says that, when it comes to opioid painkillers, patients could end up in possession of potentially lethal quantities of the drug in a short space of time, and a lack of control mechanisms means that all of this could take place daily, without a coordinated duty of care.
Initially, the company’s platform is going to be used by two established online pharmacies that already have a combined user base of 300,000 people, with an average of 30,000 to 50,000 prescriptions currently handled per month. MediConnect hopes that its solution can improve patient outcomes, prevent drug misuse, establish where medicines have come from, and ensure that product recalls can happen more efficiently.
Sadly, the issue of counterfeit drugs is far from a hypothetical one. One scandal in 2007 saw 25,000 packs enter the U.K. supply chain, with a BBC report from 2012 revealing that, at the time, just eight affected patients had been identified.
To achieve its vision, MediConnect’s blockchain is going to be powered by Stratis, whose in-house developers are being tasked with building a suite of services tailored to the needs of pharmacies.
Chris Trew, CEO and founder of Stratis Group Ltd., stated:
"This is an exciting time for Stratis. MediConnect will become another customer of Stratis, utilizing our consultancy services to build and deliver a bespoke blockchain solution set to revolutionise the medical industry."
The startup’s solution is going to comprise of two blockchains. The first, a private permissioned blockchain, is going to store confidential data — such as customer prescriptions — while a public blockchain will be used to process transactions made via the specially created MEDI token.
MediConnect’s system would guarantee the visibility and transparency of drug circulation in the online pharmacy industry on both sides. Manufacturers, logistics companies, wholesalers, online pharmacies, doctors and patients all play a role, with the blockchain offering benefits for each. As an example, health care professionals would be able to cut back on the paperwork that prevents them from spending more time with patients, while patients would be able to take ownership of their medical records and have confidence in the provenance of their medication.
Through MEDI tokens, patients would also have the opportunity to earn discounts and rewards, helping to make health care less expensive. MediConnect believes this asset will also eliminate credit and debit card fees for customers, guarantee their anonymity, and remove currency conversion fees for the organizations buying medicines from drug manufacturers abroad.
Collaborating with the NHS
MediConnect plans to roll out with two online pharmacies in the middle of 2019 — an additional six to eight pharmacies set to integrate soon afterward. One of them will be an NHS outpatient dispensing pharmacy. As the year progresses, the trial has plans to reach 20 additional pharmacies across Nottingham, Derby and Leicester. By the end of 2019, MediConnect will go on to deliver the results of the trial to the appropriate government regulators and the official Prescription Drug Addiction working group within the BBFA, the Care Quality Commission and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.
Dexter Blackstock, MediConnect Director said:
“We need to influence change with regulators and our vision is that one day it will be mandatory for all pharmacies and prescribers to be using a single distributed ledger to prevent the misuse, overprescribing and potential dependency of prescription drugs.”
A token offering is now under way. The private sale began on Jan. 16 and ends on Feb. 6, with the public sale running from Feb. 20 to April 3.
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