German-based Merck Group has been granted a patent for creating ‘crypto-objects’ based on artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain that can be used to secure pharmaceutical supply chains.

The patented system uses machine learning techniques to link physical objects to blockchain through unique identifiers, known as ‘fingerprints’. A range of features can be used as a fingerprint, such a chemical, DNA or image patterns.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

Patent US 10,193,695 follows previous patents 10,002,302 and 10,002, 277, which also focused on securing supply chains. These include integrating physical materials in the digital world, protecting corresponding hardware and enhancing existing security functions.

Merck chief strategy officer Isabel De Paoli said: “Merck is now spearheading the development of blockchain technologies that focus on a combination of physical objects and digital security. This will have implications for all industries that depend on reliable product authenticity, such as safety-critical supply chains in the pharma and food sector.”

De Paoli continued: “This novel technology of combining physical products with blockchain will support the security interests of businesses and their products by offering them new methods of tracking their supply chain through blockchain, Internet of Things and connected workflow environments. It is also likely to eliminate inefficiencies in their existing systems.”

The new technology is being created through a project conducted at the company’s Innovative Centre, which grows ideas for viable businesses beyond Merck’s normal activities in a protected start-up environment.

This occurs in the context of an update to the EU Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) coming into effect in mid-February. The latest FMD deadline will require mandatory validation of each pack in pharmacies and hospitals and various obligations on participants in the pharma supply chain.

Blockchain is increasingly being employed by the pharma industry to help control the growing amount of counterfeit drugs. Counterfeiting is an issue worldwide, but particularly in developing countries as regulations and technical capacity of regulators are weaker.