November 2017 -

Blockchain Technology in Pharmaceutical Supply Chain

Interview with Ramana Pinnam, Director of Product Management, about blockchain technology in the pharmaceutical industry

Perhaps you have heard tale of the up and coming technology called blockchain. Maybe you are an expert on blockchain technology and how it fits into the world of pharmaceuticals. Or perhaps you are like most of the world and you are unsure about what to make of blockchain and frankly you are afraid to ask anyone to explain. If that describes you, never fear! We recently had a fantastic opportunity sit down with Ramana Pinnam, Sr. Director of Product Management here at rfxcel,  after he presented at the 2017 HDA Traceability Seminar. Hopefully this conversation sheds as much light on blockchain technology as it has for us.


Could you give us a brief overview of blockchain technology?

Absolutely. Blockchain technology almost says it all in its name. Imagine the “block” as a piece of data and the chain is where that data hooks into place with all the other “blocks” of data. This is a very basic understanding of this technology. The idea behind blockchain technology is to create a secure online based and shared ledger of sorts. Like a banker would keep a ledger of all the transactions by hand, blockchain takes a certain category of transaction and locks in the data so it cannot be lost or misplaced. Blockchain in regards to supply chain has been used primarily in crypto currency transaction such as Bitcoin, but now we are seeing larger companies like Walmart using blockchain to keep detailed records of some of its food products. It is increasingly important in our world today to be able to efficiently track products and transactions from creation to when it reaches the consumers’ hands. Blockchain technology creates a very efficient avenue for that, and we are seeing some pharmaceutical companies beginning to investigate how it can apply to our industry.


Speaking of pharmaceutical companies, how does blockchain technology relate to the pharmaceutical industry?

Well, as of now it does not directly correlate or relate. Some companies are partnering together to research and decide if blockchain technology will be utilized as the future for tracking all individual medications and products manufactured by pharmaceutical companies. It seems to be a promising technology to incorporate into tracking products and mitigating risk of loss or counterfeiting of pharmaceutical products.


What are some Pro’s and Con’s about adopting blockchain technology?

The largest con right now is that we just do not know for sure if blockchain technology will do what we need it to do. A lot more testing needs to be done in the pharmaceutical industry. One of the main pros is also a con. Blockchain locks in data so it cannot be changed or altered. This is quite a positive when trying to track products, but user error can make this problematic. That is why appropriate education and training will be needed for those who adopt blockchain within the supply chain.


If you could, what type of timeline would you guess at for the full incorporation of blockchain into our industry?

As I said earlier, a lot more testing and research must be done. I am not sure of a specific timeline, but there are companies and organizations turning over rocks as we speak to see how blockchain can fit into the pharmaceutical industry. These things take time, but if the research and testing comes back promising we could see the full integration of blockchain technology in just the next few years.


After speaking with Ramana Pinnam we all felt a lot more confident in our understanding of blockchain technology. We hope that we at rfxcel can help you feel more confident about all trends in technology and pharmaceuticals. As far as blockchain technology goes, we are always committed to utilizing the best resources available for our clients. As more information becomes available about the application and use of blockchain technology into our industry you will be the first to know about it.

About rfxcel:

rfxcel is the leading provider of SaaS-based track and trace solutions. Their solution enables companies to protect patients and meet their compliance needs, while getting insights and visibility into their supply chain. Their relentless commitment to customer success and continuous innovation ensures that companies meet their requirements and protect those who depend on them.


Blockchain technology in pharmaceutical supply chain


rfxcel at HDA Traceability Seminar

rfxcel is a HDA Traceability sponsor and partner

As the industry works toward the law’s 2023 finish line, HDA’s annual Traceability Seminar brings together healthcare supply chain leaders. These seminars provide the opportunity for industry leaders to collaborate and learn more about upcoming DSCSA implementation milestones. rfxcel is a proud HDA partner supporting their mission and members. rfxcel’s efforts to bring collaboration between companies is showing effective results. rfxcel’s partners and customers enjoy dramatic reductions in costs. They also see improvements in speed, service levels, and successful integrations. These results are tracked across the pharmaceutical supply chain.

This year rfxcel is part of HDA’s Traceability Seminar to educate the industry about best practices of serialization and compliance. As well as, innovative approaches and lessons learned working with distributors, manufacturers and dispensers. Strategic planning, collaborating and a flexible systems are set to implement serialization and traceability technologies. This effort further preserve the safety and security of the healthcare supply chain.

rfxcel is among key DSCSA solution providers for serialization, compliance and traceability. As DSCSA and FMD deadlines are approaching, rfxcel is partnering with manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies to provide them a simple, fast and reliable solution. A flexible and customizable system can meet these requirements. Pharmaceutical manufacturers in the U.S. will reach a major serialization milestone on November 27, 2018. European companies will reach these deadlines with the FMD on February 9, 2019.

This is why rfxcel participates and supports HDA, fellow supply chain colleagues, federal and state regulators, and industry traceability experts to provide details on the progress toward this milestone.

If have question about the serialization process and how to start please contact our team. We are here for you and your success. Please take a look at our whitepaper “7 Secretes of Serialization“. Our teams comes from strong backgrounds is this industry and we want to share best practices in serialization.

Patient Safety Through Traceability

Global pharmaceutical safety
through smart serialization and open collaboration


Medications – we all use them, but how can we be sure they are authentic and safe? 10-15% of the world’s drug supply is counterfeit. Criminals mislabel drugs to scam consumers, selling the fake drug as authentic. The pharmaceutical industry loses hundreds of billions in profit. Hundreds of thousands of patients are at risk of losing their lives every year.


The need for pharmaceutical companies to have absolute and accurate visibility of their supply chains is imperative. Global governments are demanding complete visibility into a drug’s journey from manufacturer to patient. The industry is shifting from a simple buyer-seller model to a more collaborative model. This is only possible through a Platform that is interoperable throughout the entire supply chain.


“This collaborative model supports the pharmaceutical industry’s need for companies to view each other as allies. rfxcel is committed to open collaboration that works with all partners, governments, and standard bodies such as GS1 and HDA. It is important to enable effective interoperability and not pursue a closed network that drives proprietary standards. By supporting the open exchange of information, companies do not have to worry about future integrations needs. Instead, companies can focus on meeting the needs of their customers and keeping their products safe.”
– Herb Wong, VP of Product Management at rfxcel.


rfxcel offers a global traceability solution which enables the entire pharmaceutical supply chain to track and trace products. rfxcel Traceability System can offer traceability from the raw-material supplier to the dispenser, delivering the final product safely to the end user. With over fourteen years in the pharmaceutical supply chain business, rfxcel knows that true visibility is only possible by integrating and processing data thoroughly between manufacturers, distributors, packagers, clinics and pharmacies. rfxcel works to ensure data is valid.


“With each step in the process, we run over sixty data verifications to reduce bad data entering the supply chain. We continuously put best data integration practices into effect, improving accuracy and visibility of the supply chain. Each shipment is assigned a serial number. At every handoff the receiving party scans that number. rfxcel instantly ascertains the data, providing a digital report with data points about the product and its history. We aggregate the date in a relationship hierarchy, so recipients gain complete visibility into every pallet, case and bottle. This process ensures trading partners feel confident that medications are authentic and safe.”
– Herb Wong, VP of Product Management at rfxcel.


Today, the rfxcel Traceability Platform provides a global solution to eliminate threats such as counterfeiting, product diversion, and theft. It is a flexible and reliable system that reduces the cost and difficulty of implementing traceability technology. rfxcel has strong experience and knowledge of industry standards, and has partnerships with regulatory agencies. This provides the solution that manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies need.


About rfxcel:

rfxcel is the leading provider of SaaS-based track and trace solutions. Their solution enables companies to protect patients and meet their compliance needs, while getting insights and visibility into their supply chain. Their relentless commitment to customer success and continuous innovation ensures that companies meet their requirements and protect those who depend on them.