Tech

Dennis Wafula

PSU researcher fights counterfeit pharmaceuticals with blockchain

Portland State University researchers have made a blockchain protocol to prevent counterfeit pharmaceuticals from flooding the market.

The project is dubbed as “A new product anti-counterfeiting blockchain using a truly decentralized dynamic consensus protocol.” It is a collaboration work between Professor of Computer Science Nirupama Bulusu, and Naif Alzahrani a PSU computer science doctoral student.

The two are working on a blockchain based protocol that records transactions, geared at facilitating the fight against fake pharmaceuticals, by product checking and decentralization. The proposed solution represents a blockchain-based chain of information that can only be accessed by users possessing a specific key to access or modify the stored data.

According to Bulusu, the decision to create the protocol was because the counterfeit pharmaceutical crisis harms the most vulnerable international populations. Most of the anti-counterfeit systems are currently centralized, which makes it easier for humans and machines to pass off fake goods. Bulusu stated, “This protocol could potentially disrupt and disable illicit supply networks.”

The two have coupled the protocol with digital product tags that include the product’s serial number, name, and expiration date. Bulusu claims that once the project is completed, business owners will be able to use this system to verify their product history and track items step by step on using their cell phones.

Counterfeiting has been a struggle for many industries since time immemorial. However, many hope to use blockchain tech to fix the problem. Earlier this year, in February Merck Group, the German pharmaceutical company, was awarded a new patent to protect the integrity off supply chains globally. The patent explained a method that combined blockchain technology and Artificial Intelligence to give objects a unique identity. The identity will be provided with figure prints or identifiers which could include DNA patterns, Chemical signatures, and image patterns.

IBM in its many blockchain-based projects has also partnered up with Seagate, a data storage firm to fight counterfeit hard drives using blockchain technology. Overstock has also worked on a blockchain based project to fight counterfeit products.

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