Every year, on September 17th, the entire world comes together to celebrate World Patient Safety Day, a crucial occasion to promote safety in global healthcare systems. In Italy, in particular, this day coincides with the “National Day for the Safety of Care and the Assisted Person,” established in 2019 to raise public awareness about the importance of patient safety.
The World Health Organization has designated the theme for 2022 as “Medication Without Harm.” This is a highly significant choice, as errors related to medication therapy are the most common cause of harm in global healthcare systems, with an estimated annual cost of around 42 billion dollars. WHO has outlined key objectives for this day, including raising awareness about the potential consequences of medication-related errors and engaging all key stakeholders in healthcare to prevent and reduce harmful effects. Furthermore, it emphasizes the importance of actively involving patients and their families in the safe use of medications and spreading and implementing the “Medication Without Harm” campaign.
Counterfeit Medicines: A Global Threat
In parallel with the theme of patient safety, it is crucial to address the issue of counterfeit medicines, which pose a significant threat to public health globally. It is estimated that between 1% and 10% of the global pharmaceutical market consists of counterfeit medicines, with significant variations between developed and developing countries.
Eurispes has conducted an in-depth study on the illicit channels through which illegal drugs pass. In recent years, online commerce has experienced exponential growth, making it easier to purchase counterfeit medicines. Counterfeiting of medicines is a complex and dangerous problem. Most counterfeit medicines do not contain the correct active ingredients or contain incorrect quantities, putting patients’ lives at risk. This phenomenon particularly affects developing countries, where the counterfeiting of life-saving drugs like antibiotics can lead to casualties.
Blockchain Against Counterfeiting
To address the issue of counterfeit medicines, blockchain offers an innovative solution. This technology creates an immutable and decentralized record of all steps in the pharmaceutical supply chain, from production to distribution to points of sale. The platforms used in the pharmaceutical sector leverage the same principles as those commonly used to protect “Made in Italy’‘ products and supply chain certification, such as those promised by the Italian Trade Agency’s Track-IT project, which includes Blockchain Italia as one of its providers. This project ensures secure and immutable traceability of products in agri-food, textile, cosmetics, and design supply chains through the development of a system that includes notarization services and promotion abroad through a landing page accessible to foreign consumers.
Similarly, solutions dedicated to the pharmaceutical sector work: every batch of medicines is recorded with details such as production date, location, and ingredients. Transparency and traceability effectively prevent the counterfeiting of medicines. Consumers can verify the authenticity of a medicine through smart labels on the packaging, obtaining all relevant information. Furthermore, it simplifies investigations into pharmaceutical fraud and quickly recalls suspicious or defective drugs from the market. Traceability of medical supplies represents a significant achievement made possible by blockchain. It allows tracking the entire medical supply chain, ensuring that devices are authentic and not counterfeit. This ensures that patients receive safe and effective treatments.
Secure medical data storage is another potential application of blockchain when applied in Self Sovereign Identity solutions, allowing the secure and immutable storage of patient medical data. By returning ownership and control of health data to patients, who have the authority to decide with whom to share their data and revoke access at any time, the risk of data alteration or unauthorized access to medical records is greatly reduced. In this way, patient privacy and security are significantly improved.
Blockchain technology can also improve the management of medical errors, thanks to the immutable recording of data. This makes it easier to investigate medical errors and identify their causes, promoting accountability and transparency in the healthcare sector.
World Patient Safety Day, along with the focus on counterfeit medicines and the use of blockchain, highlights the importance of patient safety and technological innovations in protecting public health. Addressing these issues requires joint efforts globally and a constant commitment to ensuring the health and well-being of all. Blockchain Italia is demonstrating tangible commitment in this context, as projects like TrackIt demonstrate how blockchain can be successfully applied to protect and safeguard “Made in Italy.”
About Blockchain Italia Srl
Blockchain Italia is a leading company in Italy in the fintech and blockchain sectors. Its objective is to optimize digital processes through innovative protocols to improve efficiency. Thanks to its high specialization and tangible results, Blockchain Italia has developed various solutions for Italian and international clients, launching a multitude of products on the market for tokenization, payment systems, and notarization, such as Dedit.io, a notarization platform that won the “Top of the PID” award in 2020 and the MF Innovation Award in 2023, together with BNL. It is also the owner of the Blockchain Forum Italia format, an annual event that has been bringing together professionals and companies from the blockchain and fintech world since 2018, offering a unique opportunity for networking and in-depth exploration, and contributing to the growth and knowledge of the sector.