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The application tracking serialized drugs in pharmacies

A custom application tracing and logging the whole process of purchase, shipment, storage and distribution of serialized drugs. All in order to prevent drug counterfeiting and adulteration, in line with the EU’s Falsified Medicines Directive.

The problem of counterfeit drugs has been a global issue for decades. The reasons for this are numerous. The development of online drug sales have increased demand, whilst lenient penalties have emboldened criminals. The global market of counterfeit drugs allegedly has risen to a value of 75 billion dollars a year, with 80% of the supply coming from China. Counterfeit drugs usually contain ingredients of low quality, are the incorrect dosage, are mislabeled with respect to their source or have fake packaging. Governments of developed countries have decided to crack down on this lucrative business.
Both United States and European Union introduced legislation (respectively, the Drug Quality & Security Act and Falsified Medicines Directive), that impose on certain drug manufacturers and distributors an obligation to give each drug package an unique serial number, and then carefully trace its journey throughout the whole distribution chain to the end user.

Project’s scope

Our client, is one of Central European operator of pharmacies . The application was intended to be distributed among pharmacies to allow them to comply with the regulations and track the distribution process of all medicines covered by the directive.
The system’s main function is checking if the drug in question, that is covered by the serialization obligation, hasn’t been counterfeited or eventually stolen. It contacts central drug database, that stores the serial numbers of all drugs that are allowed to be sold in the European Union. To comply with the directive, the pharmacy company is obliged to set up a process of tracking the whole lifecycle of the product in the distribution process. That means drugs are registered

  • when they are accepted by the shop
  • when they are sold to the customer
  • when they are returned by the customer
  • when they are destroyed
  • there’s also a separate process designed for drug samples

Each activity connected with a particular drug package should be stored in the database for future reference. Due to high volume of traffic that was expected to be generated by multiple pharmacies, a high level of efficiency for the whole system was required.

Implementation

Through the analysis of client’s need we drafted the application architecture. It comprises of:

  • Java platform based backend application working in a highly efficient asynchronous model, optimised to cover huge amounts of traffic - in particular, a high number of simultaneous scans. The application communicates with database where it searches for drug serial number and updates its status when it is accepted into the store, sold or returned. The application feeds data to the mobile applications used by shop assistants and the other people involved in the distribution process.
  • Mobile application run under React Native framework. The application is installed on  handheld devices running Android OS and equipped with laser barcode scanners. The application is not uploaded into Google play, it is kept on our server. Every day the application checks the server in search of updates and downloads its own newest version
  • Company headquarters web interface, used to manage the clients - in this case,the pharmacies
  • Pharmacy interface to manage drugs, employees accounts and transactions

Client's benefits

Through the implementation of this application our client acquired a complete drug registration system allowing them to set up a drug circulation process that fully comply with the latest European regulations.To ensure the highest possible efficiency of the whole system the application was designed in the microservice architecture. Thanks to this solution, the application is easily scalable and therefore ready to meet any traffic requirements that a growing pharmacy network may require in  future.

Technologies involved

Java+Spring Framework

 

React.js

 

React Native