Pharmaceutical companies regularly face problems relating to counterfeiting. One way to solve this issue could be an efficient pharma traceability solution. But what is pharma traceability in the first place? Why ensure such measures for counterfeiting protection? Read on to find out!


A Brief History of AlpVision

AlpVision, a leader in its game, is a market-dominating, state-of-the-art anti-counterfeiting solution provider. It provides multiple technologies for brand owners to utilize in an attempt to authenticate and legitimize their products. And thus, eradicate even the slightest counterfeiting possibilities. The company established its basis in 2001 and, to the current date, has become a widely accepted solution for over 2000 companies. AlpVision began its mission to support and solve the counterfeiting problems present in the pharmaceutical industry.


Why does counterfeiting pose a substantial threat to the pharmaceutical world? Well . . . let’s say that from a health-concerning point of view, counterfeit drugs have the potential to worsen the current conditions of patients instead of healing them in the first place. They could contain the wrong proportions of ingredients. Or they might possess the incorrect constituents altogether. Thus, having the potential to put one’s life in jeopardy. Therefore, an effective mechanism for tracking the drugs in the supply chain process is needed. For that, welcome “Pharma Traceability.”


AlpVision has taken this responsibility to protect the world from every illegal fraudulency. And it later extended its anti-counterfeiting policy to parameters well beyond the pharmaceutical industry. Over time, AlpVision has worked hard to develop and update its solutions. All while working to introduce newer ones as well. And now, it even incorporates Artificial Intelligence to optimize its pharma traceability solutions, where counterfeiting protection begins to notice a paradigm shift in the way it used to operate.


Why Pharma Traceability of all solutions?

As you have seen briefly above, traceability is of utmost importance in recognizing the journey of a particular drug in the supply chain process. It would contain each and every data needed about the product. That means it will incorporate everything from the materials gathered from suppliers all the way to when the drug passes on to a patient. Every transaction detail would be available, and every location of the drug from the point of manufacture till the present moment. That – in and of itself – is quite a handy counterfeiting protection method if you ask me.


Pharma Traceability incorporates a track and trace mechanism that enables one to look at the history (tracking) of various transfers of a pharmaceutical drug. And it also allows one to look ahead in the future (tracing) to see the upcoming destinations of the drug in the supply chain process. Knowing all this priceless information can enable efficient health check operations and inspections and look for where a suspicious or malicious product is being manufactured and is entering the system.


In order to ensure a single standard blockchain to keep track of all the pharmaceutical drugs, a general body was formed to assure universal standardization. GS1 is this organization, and it works internationally to ensure standard, quality operations in various industries. These also include the pharma industry. The GS1 US standard enables different trading personnel to exchange information about the drug in the supply chain process based on four events:

  • WHAT – products are impacted?
  • WHEN – did this time-stamped event occur?
  • WHERE – was the product, where is it now?
  • WHY – was this observed, and which process step?


How does Pharma Traceability work?

This magnificent anti-counterfeiting mechanism comprises three essential components working together to produce a seemingly flawless, foolproof result. So, let us jump straight into it.


·       Serialization

Serialization is just what it sounds. It is a process whereby the product – in this case, the drug – is allotted a specific code giving it a unique identity. In each stage of its assembly or transportation, a different serial code could be attached that directly correlates to the position of the drug in the supply chain – it could show whether the drug has recently been manufactured, or if it is stored in some warehouse. This unique identity could be in the form of 2D barcodes, QR codes, etc. Each would refer to a different level of serialization.


Before serialization, product identification was only possible till batch level. However, identification now occurs further down to the item level. That means each individual item has its own unique identity. The conventional techniques used to identify items involved finding out the product itself. Then figure out the batch date. And finally, recognize the expiration date. With serialization, the process remains the same, except that the unique identification of individual articles is possible.


One frequently asked question is: “how can you trust the serialization information?” That is a valid point. I mean . . .what if someone manipulates the barcode/QR code to mimic an original code. Thus, seemingly being unalarming in the supply chain process. However, when incorporating these with invisible anti-counterfeiting technology like that of AlpVision, you integrate an additional layer of security into the overall scheme. For example, adding a cryptoglyph can mark these codes with microscopic indentations. And only those products with said dents are regarded as legit.  And, it even offers internal and custom solutions as well!


·       Track and Trace

Although people often use serialization and track and trace interchangeably, they’re different. Straight to the point, serialization talks of how one can efficiently identify a product down to its item level. Track and trace, on the other hand, tell one the history as well as the upcoming journey of the product. In this, the tracking talks about the future handlings and transfers of the item. And the tracing part recalls the history of transfers of the article through the supply chain process.


That’s really it, to be honest. Track and tracing are of utmost importance to the pharma traceability solution. It acts as the backbone procedure that helps the different items move in a steady flow through the blockchain. As well as keeping a record of the multiple places the article has been and will go. Serialization here plays the role of the unique identifier that distinguishes these different articles from one another.


·       Verification

Verification is a crucial factor in the whole procedure of pharma traceability. Let me ask you a question. Imagine you receive a product of which you had suspicions. And you found out that the serial code and the transaction history of that item are valid and seem legitimate. Should you, or should you not, verify these details to rid yourself of any doubts whatsoever?


Exactly! Data verification is quite essential when it comes to authenticating data. One way to do this would be to incorporate various anti-counterfeiting solutions (like those provided by AlpVision) to the serial code. You already know the cryptoglyph method we mentioned earlier. However, the technological solutions aren’t limited to that only. AlpVision’s fingerprint protection and secured QR code work great when it comes to improving the overall legitimacy of a product. Moreover, these mechanisms operate on a microscopic level. So, realizing they’re there is quite impossible.


Present Initiatives for Pharma Traceability

Pharma Traceability is a phenomenal, ground-breaking innovation that you may have figured out by now. It not only secures the health consequences of the blind transportation of drugs, but it ensures and creates a secure pathway that reduces the overall costs and improves efficiency. Presently, two initiatives for effective pharma traceability exist. They are WCO IPM and Pharmaledger. And best of all, AlpVision is totally compatible with these two!


·       WCO IPM and AlpVision

The World Customs Organization (WCO) release the IPM a way back in an attempt to combat counterfeiting through techniques that would prove standard to the world. This platform works by giving rights holders the ability to share various information relating to products and allowing online verification and authentication. AlpVision successfully integrated its anti-counterfeiting technology into this platform. And it holds the honor of being the first solution provider to do so. It works by simply scanning the serial code with the IPM application. You are then guided through the verification process.


·       Pharmaledger and AlpVision

Pharmaledger is another initiative on the road towards seamless, verifiable, pharma traceability solutions and its effective supply chain. It brings together several major pharmaceutical companies along with a couple more private entities. The purpose of proposing this initiative was to work towards creating a globally accepted platform where members can design and adopt blockchain-enabled healthcare solutions. Like IPM, AlpVision has successfully incorporated Cryptoglyph as an invisible anti-counterfeiting technology in Pharmaledger.


What this assisted in was that it called upon evermore simpler procedures for data authentication and electronic product information. Upon implementing an additional layer of security on such a platform, users can access a broader range of product authentication channels. All while being extremely cost-effective and user-friendly.


AlpVision will continue to be compatible with future initiatives like the aforementioned ones. That’s because any serialization system can be used and the additional authentication layer is fully invisible.



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