News this week reported on a court case in Switzerland involving a company that has allegedly been forging the expiration date of a cancer drug for several years. The drug was dispensed to 23 people in Swiss hospitals, including 15 children. The Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products, Swissmedic, is taking the company to court arguing that the drug put patients’ health at risk.
Drug remained in circulation years after expiration
The Swiss-based company Alkopharma had been falsifying the expiration date of the drug Thiotepa for years when in 2011, the German manufacturer noticed that the drug was still in circulation although it should have expired long ago.
In 2016 the company began receiving accusations, however at that time the court determined that the patient’s health was not being put at risk, and the company was absolved. According to Swissmedic, however, the main active ingredient in the drug had been significantly reduced over time.
Swissmedic claims health risks to patients
The trial for the second round of accusations will begin this year, with Swissmedic pointing to the fact that of the 23 affected patients four suffered relapses in their illnesses and three children died.
The Blockchain solution
The World Health Organization reports that one million people die annually as a result of the effects of counterfeit drugs. If the pharmaceutical company in this case had been using Blockchain technology in their supply chain to track the products from beginning to end, the continued circulation of the expired drug could have been avoided.
Using Blockchain, a drug’s packaging could be scanned and tracked with its whereabouts being logged as transactions. This record would be available to both manufacturers and consumers. Blockchain additionally ensures that the transparent record created can not be manipulated due to elaborate encryption and decentralization.