Will futuristic concepts from the world of technology likely find a place in our medicine cabinet? Maybe! The new concept has been known as ‘cryptopharmaceuticals’ and embodies pharmaceutical products and app use.
The logo for the MedBlockChain app. Credit: HealthSciences.KU.DK
Specifically, a prototype of an app was developed by researchers at the University of Copenhagen that in the future can possibly prescribe the optimal dose of medicine for the receiving patient. The app, called 'MedBlockChain', can also prevent counterfeit products by allowing patients the ability to scan a medication and confirm that it is genuine which is especially applicable in nations with less regulations.
“Using a prototype app for smartphones, researchers from the University of Copenhagen have taken the next step in the dosing, production and distribution of the pharmaceutical products of the future. And the time for innovation is more than ripe,” says Professor Jukka Rantanen of the Department of Pharmacy. “200 years ago, the first patent on making tablets was filed and the products have not changed much since. We are still having the same tablets. What we are doing now is suggesting a totally new type of product. By rethinking the product design principles, related manufacturing solutions and distribution models for the pharmaceutical products, it is possible to dramatically reduce the overall price of medicine while also improving the safety and efficacy of the medication”.
Image Credit: HealthSciences.KU.DK
Using the MedBlockChain app, data to personal information like heart rate monitor watches, pedometers, and internet-connected bath scales to genetic profiles, screen time and social media usage enable artificial-intelligence based computer systems to determine the optimal dose for each patient—this is of course based on patient approval.
“This type of data already exist in our information-rich society. It would be logical to employ this big data for something useful. Not just for sharing on Facebook, your exercise app or something like that, but also for defining your optimal dose of given medicine”, says Jukka Rantanen. “With the growing mass of personal data, data security is also gaining importance.”
The blockchain technology guarantees data security that is best achieved with cryptocurrency Bitcoin. All changes are monitored and traced and upon suspicion can generate an alarm. For example, a patient that scans QR code may be alerted by an alarm if the code does not match the one that the pharmaceutical company issued, or if the medication does not match the prescription.
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“The blockchain concept may still seem distant to most people, but in fact, the technology is already being used in similar ways for everything from insurance and finance to shipping and food,” explains Jukka Rantanen. “All of this is technologically possible. Now, the big question is how we should handle all of this data and who should get access to it. That is the discussion we hope to start with this new concept of cryptopharmaceuticals.”
Source: University of Copenhagen