Could blockchain technology have stopped El Chapo?
It is always a good thing when scumbags get their just desserts. I was pleased to see that Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán got convicted and will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.
But what really amazed me was the gargantuan amount of cash he amassed by selling illegal drugs. Nobody knows just how much, but most estimates are in excess of $10 billion.
Sure, $10 billion may seem like a mountain of money. But you may be surprised to learn the counterfeit pharmaceutical drug market is larger than the illegal drug market that made El Chapo so rich.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health estimates that a $1,000 investment in fake drugs can return $30,000 in profits. That’s 10 times the profit that can be made from heroin!
PricewaterhouseCoopers estimated that the street value of counterfeit drugs was $217 billion in 2018.
Fake drugs not only make scumbags rich, but they also kill people. The World Health Organization estimates that over 1 million people around the world die from fake drugs.
Some 30% of those fake drugs contain no active ingredients, which renders them useless. However, a high percentage are contaminated with dangerous chemicals, and often make things worse instead of better.
Clearly, we’re talking about a serious, serious problem. However, battling the counterfeiters has so far proven to be impossible.
The good news is that some brilliant people are tirelessly working on solving this deadly, multibillion-dollar problem. And whoever figures out a way to take fake drugs off the market is going to make a FORTUNE.
Guess what? The solution is near and it is coming from blockchain, the underlying technology that drives cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin.
Blockchain provides a public record of every step in the supply chain, one that cannot be changed.
Think about that for a second. This technology makes it possible to trace every drug all the way back to its raw materials.
Each step in the supply chain can be searched virtually — instantaneously. This is why blockchain will be such a powerful tool when it comes to combating counterfeit drugs.
Big pharma companies are climbing over themselves to incorporate blockchain technology into their supply chain. Many are already throwing billions of dollars in search of a solution.
Plus, drug-makers are running out of time to secure their supply chains.
In 2013, the U.S. introduced the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) with the aim of controlling the rampant counterfeit drug market.
The act requires drugmakers to be able to electronically track and trace their drugs through the entire supply chain. That means all the way from the raw materials to manufacturing to middlemen to the consumer.
And it requires complete implementation by 2023.
The Food & Drug Administration is even showing drugmakers how to secure their supply chain. It has launched several blockchain pilot programs to help in the tracking and tracing of pharmaceutical drugs.
In fact, the FDA is so convinced that blockchain is the solution that it recently hired Frank Yiannas as deputy commissioner for Food Policy & Response. Yiannas previously headed food safety at Walmart for a decade, and Walmart is one of the key partners in the IBM Food Trust blockchain initiative.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb made the following statement:
“As part of our ongoing efforts to protect our nation’s drug supply, today, we’re giving industry an opportunity to test new technologies that can help spur greater accountability for participants in the supply chain and improve our ability to trace prescription drugs at every point in the distribution chain.”
In other words, blockchain is the only solution. Blockchain provides a public and immutable record of every step in the supply chain, and is the most-powerful tool available to combat counterfeit drugs.