Blockchain in Action: Derailing Drug Abuse & Prescription Drug Fraud

4 min read

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from 1999 to 2016, approximately 200,000 people died from overdoses related to prescription opioids.  Moreover, in  2016, the CDC claims that opioid abuse resulted in roughly 46 deaths daily.

For those unfamiliar, opioids are drugs that act on opioid receptors. They are commonly used for things like anesthesia and pain relief. Some examples of these substances include Methadone, Oxycodone (such as OxyContin), and Hydrocodone (such as Vicodin). The previously mentioned examples are the most common types of drugs involved in prescription opioid-related deaths.

Addiction can cause those who abuse these substances to commit prescription drug fraud. Creating faulty prescriptions and/or coning medical professionals are just a couple of the ways these potentially harmful drugs wind up in the wrong hands.


BlockMedx CEO Michael Brunner explains,

“The current system for prescribing and filling the most highly controlled and dangerous medications is astounding. Prescriptions are hand-written on prescription paper, which often contains poor security features, and hand delivered by the patient to pharmacies. This creates an environment where prescriptions can be easily forged, copied or altered.”

However, using blockchain technology, BlockMedx is working to help eliminate prescription drug fraud. The company has been developing a new platform on the Ethereum blockchain.

This platform will allow prescriptions to be verified by pharmacists, while also providing details on both doctors and patients. The new network should help pharmacists avoid filling out in faulty prescriptions. BlockMedx will also give doctors the ability to revoke their prescriptions, should the need arise.

In Bunner’s own words,

“Fraud and abuse abound in a system with such broad security holes, and it’s time that a comprehensive solution was developed to combat them. BlockMedx is developing one such solution. Blockchain technology is a perfect fit for this use-case. Prescriptions can no longer be altered or forged, and the identity of stakeholders in the system can be formally verified. A prescription transaction so closely mirrors a financial transaction (for which blockchains are such a good use-case) that using blockchain technology for prescriptions is really a homerun.”

The MediLedger Project

Another way folks are looking to improve the prescription drug process and prevent prescription drug fraud and abuse is by monitoring the supply chain. Well-known pharmaceutical company’s like Pfizer and Genentech have things in the works. They have teamed up with blockchain startups Chronicled and The LinkLab, to form the MediLedger Project.

One of the major aims of the project is to increase transparency and reduce counterfeit opportunities in the supply chain. This effort, through the use of blockchain, would allow everyone from hospitals to wholesalers access to records. Therefore, allowing them to track a pharmaceutical shipment’s journey throughout the delivery process. This would help prevent criminals from tampering with the supply chain. Thus, keeping potentially harmful substances off the market.

A recent article by the WBR Insight’s team explained,

“Blockchain is indeed a natural fit to help solve the counterfeit drug problem. In a blockchain-powered supply chain, a drug’s packaging can be scanned and verified at any point in the chain whenever the drug changes hands between stakeholders. All activity is completely transparent and shown in real-time, eliminating the lengthy delays often associated with legacy tracking software, and rendering any anomalies or lapses in supply chain integrity immediately detectable.”

Blockchain technology is poised to have a major impact on the pharmaceutical industry. And also those who rely on these drugs to live life to the fullest. Between preventing prescription drug fraud and drug abuse, and keeping harmful counterfeit drugs off the market, this new technology could quite literally be a lifesaver.

By now, many people have heard of blockchain technology. However, they may not be fully aware of all the ways this new tech is, or soon will be, changing the world around us.

In our series, Blockchain In Action, we take a look at some real-world uses for this digitized and decentralized public ledger. We discover how it can potentially help various industries become more profitable, increase efficiency, and, perhaps most importantly, make our everyday lives easier.

For more awesome articles by Jacques Martin, check ’em out here