Zuellig Pharma, a Singapore-headquartered medical services company, has launched a blockchain-based tracking system that can prevent accidents like those involving the use of expired Covid-19 vaccines . The company said that governments and private clients can instantly verify the provenance and authenticity of such vaccines and other health care products using its eZTracker management system. The system uses blockchain technology to capture, track and trace multiple data points for products like vaccines to improve supply chain transparency and allow for instant verification via a mobile app. “For products registered with eZTracker and depending on the needs of our pharma principals, patients can scan the 2D data matrix on the product packaging to verify key product information like expiry date, temperature, and provenance through its app powered by blockchain,” said Daniel Laverick, vice-president and head of digital and data solutions at Zuellig Pharma. “Accidents involving expired or improperly stored vaccines can be avoided,” he added. On January 12, the Hong Kong health authorities revealed that a private clinic in Hong Kong injected 36 people with expired Covid-19 vaccines . Two of them reported gastrointestinal discomfort after vaccination, according to the Hong Kong health authority. The clinic gave 12 people the German-made BioNTech vaccine “a few hours” after the suggested use-by date on January 2. Another 24 people received the vaccine on January 4, two days after it had expired. The company’s solution provides a solution for patients to have greater control over their health and could help them avoid incidents that threaten their health and safety, said Laverick. For this to be effective, it requires a collaborative effort from government authorities, health care practitioners and patients to adopt the habit of verifying their products before administration, he said. As more Covid-19 vaccines are approved, each with their own unique requirements, it is crucial to address the main challenges that will drive vaccination uptake. In April last year, Zuellig Pharma partnered with Moderna to supply the US pharmaceutical company’s Covid-19 Vaccine in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Moderna’s vaccine, however, is not available in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is the midst of a fifth wave of the Covid-19 outbreak, with the city recording hundreds of cases over the past few days. A government pandemic adviser has warned the escalating cases could take two to three months to slow. Laverick said the company’s technology does not only apply to Covid-19 vaccines’ safety. The end-to-end blockchain solution can also help to address the growing concerns of counterfeit products, grey markets, improper cold chain storage and inefficient drug inventory management. A counterfeit medicine is “one which is deliberately and fraudulently mislabelled with respect to identity and/or source”, according to the World Health Organization. A report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates consumers in Southeast Asia spend between US$520 million and US$2.6 billion per year on counterfeit medicines. Last June, authorities in Hong Kong seized about 110,000 tablets and 1.5 litres of suspected counterfeit medicines with an estimated market value of about HK$4 million (US$513,700). Laverick said Hong Kong could be a potential market for the company’s eZTracker. While the Hong Kong government remains vigilant on counterfeit drugs, preventing them from entering the city, there may be other grey trades that remain hidden, he said. Zuellig Pharma has businesses in 13 markets in Asia, including Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand, providing distribution, digital and commercial services to over 350,000 medical facilities and more than 1,000 clients.