The Afghanistan Ministry of Public Health has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Fanthom and Chekkit to help tackle the problem of counterfeit meds in the country using blockchain.
The project, which begins with a 3-month pilot, will utilize Chekkit’s product authentication technology to track and verify all drugs sold in the country.
Africa and Asia are the continents that have been hit hardest by the problem of counterfeit goods. It has always been so for a long time, but not for long. Why? It’s simple, these continents are fighting back!
How are they fighting back? With strategic partnerships!
Over the years, we have seen several partnerships between progressive governments and innovative technology companies to tackle counterfeiting head-on, no holding back. A testament to the fact that a lot can be achieved with strategic public-private collaborations.
Afghanistan is one of such progressive governments, while Fantom Foundation and Chekkit Technologies are two of such innovative technology companies.
The problem they set out to solve; lack of visibility in the pharmaceutical industry. Too many players (many of which are illicit) selling drugs (many of them fakes) that were harming everyday Afghans.
To put that in perspective, as of 2015, a total of 450 foreign pharmaceutical suppliers were registered with the health ministry in Afghanistan, which had a population of 31 million people. In comparison, India, which had a population of more than 1.2 billion, had about 100 registered foreign medicine suppliers. Clearly, something needed to be done to better sieve out the illicit pharma traders.
In that vein, the Afghanistan Ministry of Public Health has signed an MoU with Fantom and Chekkit to help tackle the problem of counterfeit meds in the country using blockchain.
The Fantom Blockchain Challenge (held in November 2019 at the AfricArena Summit in South Africa), in which Chekkit was among the top three participants, initiated the partnership. Fantom was already in conversation with the Afghan Ministry of Health and brought Chekkit into the discussion because our solution was advanced enough to tackle the Afghan counterfeit problem and the fact that Chekkit’s solution was built to work perfectly in developing countries, was a huge plus as well. The partnership sees Chekkit’s solution deployed on Fantom’s DAG blockchain network.
How will the drug verification pilot work?
Chekkit’s smart labels will be attached to 80,000 pharmaceutical products sold in the Afghan market. These pharmaceutical products include;
- 50,000 items of hand sanitizer produced by Bliss GVS, endorsed by the World Health Organization, and recently launched in order to fight against Covid-19 in Afghanistan. Royal Star is the distributor of this product in Afghanistan.
- 10,000 items of free joint cream produced by Nabros Pharma. This cream help relieves joint pain.
- 10,000 items of Kofanol Chewable Tablets produced by Nabros Pharma. This tablet helps relieve cough, cold, and sore throat.
- 10,000 items of Diacare Foot Cream (Diabetic) produced by Nabros Pharma which is used in treating diabetic-related skin infections.
Each smart label has a unique QR code generated by Chekkit’s proprietary software which contains information on each product like its authenticity, manufacturing date, expiry date, FDA number, manufacturer, distributor, and so on.
On the part of the Afghan public/consumers, they can then verify the drugs before purchase/use by scratching Chekkit’s smart label on any of the pilot products to reveal the product’s QR code, scan with Chekkit App, and then view the authenticity of the product as well as other product information.
To encourage verification, Chekkit has deployed a loyalty/reward system where consumers win a little something back when they verify products. This is a win/win for everyone involved.
Chekkit has also provided an oversight capability for the Health Ministry by providing special hand-held devices that they can use to verify the authenticity of the products at the point of entry into the country. This is possible because our smart labels are made using special materials called taggants, providing an extra layer of security for all parties involved.
1. Serialization: The manufacturers of the 80,000 pharmaceutical products will utilize Chekkit’s Consumer Intelligence solution where they get access to the unique product IDs (QR codes) that have been generated by the platform and stored on the blockchain network.
The IDs are different for every unit and contain information on each product’s SKU, production date, expiry date, registration number, and much more.
The codes are then supplied as scratch-off sticker labels that then go on the products. The QR codes are hidden by the scratch panel of the label. A fool proof anti counterfeit technology solution.
2. Verification by regulators: Chekkit’s smart labels are made using special materials called taggants which can be verified using special hand-held devices.
These devices will be used to verify the authenticity of pharmaceuticals by regulatory officers at their point of entry into Afghanistan as well as during in-store inspections of drug retail outlets. This gives the project an extra layer of security.
3. Verification by consumers: Everyday Afghans buying pharmaceuticals in stores can also verify the authenticity of drugs before they use them. All they have to do is scratch the chekkit label on the product to reveal its unique QR code and just scan it using Chekkit App. They can then see if the product is original or fake as well as other information on the product like its expiry date, registration number, etc. To encourage people to verify products, rewards (loyalty points for a raffle) have been attached to the verification process. A short feedback survey is also attached to the verification process.
4. Data collection & analysis: When a product is verified, data like the location of purchase, time of verification, product verified, and so on, is collected and is made available to the product manufacturers in real-time. Even better, surveys have been tied into the verification process and consumers have to answer the 2 or 3 questions attached to a product to win a reward. With the surveys, data on consumer behavior and preference will be collected and analyzed in real-time. All this is available to the manufacturer on Chekkit’s Consumer Intelligence solution.
5. Trackable reward & loyalty campaigns: The product manufacturers involved in the pilot will be running a raffle draw for consumers who have bought and verified their products. As a consumer verifies a product and takes a short survey, they are rewarded with points and entered into the raffle.
The more products verified by a consumer, the more points got and the more entries into the raffle draw. At the end of the pilot, winners emerge, randomly selected by Chekkit’s Consumer Intelligence solution.
6. Supply Chain Tracking (Track & Trace): Chekkit’s solution will be used to track the movement of pharmaceutical products from when they leave the warehouse and through every point in the supply chain.
This will provide real-time visibility on the movement and distribution of pharmaceutical products till it gets to the final consumer. A pilot for this will begin after this initial phase of the project.
How big is the whole project?
Speaking on the innovative initiative, the Co-founder and CEO of Chekkit Technologies, Dare Odumade, said:
“The Afghanistan Ministry of public health had been looking for effective ways to verify the authenticity and effectiveness of drugs that are being imported into the country and Chekkit provided them with a way to authenticate the drugs at the point of entry into the country and also at point of purchase. We believe this double focus strategy will make it extremely difficult for counterfeiters to thrive.
“Through this partnership, we will provide the pharma companies involved with valuable consumer insights and a reward program to encourage purchase and verification by buyers, as well as give the government/ministry a transparent view of the pharmaceutical market. On completion of a successful pilot, we envisage our technology being deployed across the board for all meds coming into Afghanistan.
“Finally, we will also deploy a supply chain tracking solution that offers 360-degree protection against counterfeiting. We plan that the supply chain tracking will be implemented in collaboration with manufacturers, distributors, and retailers”.