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Now Intel Corp. and the pharmaceutical industry are planning to fight fire with fire. The chipmaker, working with health companies, aims to use so-called blockchain technology — similar to the one that underpins the digital currency Bitcoin — to better trace drugs and potentially stem the epidemic.
The idea is to pinpoint where drugs leak out of the supply chain. Blockchain also could help flag “double doctoring,” where an addicted patient takes out more than one prescription from multiple physicians.
“It will vastly reduce the opioid epidemic,” said David Houlding, director of health-care privacy and security at Intel Health and Life Sciences. “I would not say this will eliminate the opioid problem, but this will help.”
The approach is being tested this spring, when Johnson & Johnson, McKesson Corp. and other companies enter simulated data into new digital ledgers. The experiment will see how easy it is to track pills as they travel from the manufacturer all the way to a patient’s home.
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