Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) joins the list of companies using blockchain technology in tracking goods across their supply chain. The pharmaceutical giant has been facing challenges posed by the proliferation of counterfeit drugs.
Merck has filed a patent for a blockchain solution to track counterfeit drugs in its supply chain. Although it was only published last week, the pharmaceutical company submitted its patent application in December 2016. The application details a system that will use blockchain technology to store information about a physical product, such as a single good. It will then track the product’s movement as it passes through the supply chain. Hence, the technology will enable the company to receive updates about the specific product. At the same time, it will verify the authenticity of the product easily and quickly.
The aim of the company seems to enhance its anti-counterfeiting system. The pharmaceutical company already has an existing internal process used to eliminate fake goods that pass through its system. The proposed patent seems like, in addition, to fit into those wider efforts.
While filing the patent, Merck noted that the blockchain technology has the capability to enable a secure and reliable storage of the reading results with very high data integrity. The company stated that with this technology, it is essentially impossible to manipulate, erase, taper with or lose such data as a result of erroneous or deliberate deletion or even due to data corruption.
The company explained that furthermore, the stored data can be accessed wherever access to the blockchain is available. This enables for a safe and distributed storage and access to the stored reading results. It gave an example of integrity verification purposes such as checking whether a supplier of a product being marked with a composite security marking as described herein, was, in fact, the originator of the product or not.
Details of whether the company will put drugs on the blockchain were not made available.