PwC, Colorcon and TruTag develop smart pharma pills

12 January 2020 3 min. read

PwC Australia has partnered with Colorcon and TruTag to develop a novel solution that promotes supply chain transparency in the pharmaceutical sector. The new solution allows tablets to be digitally linked to a data ledger using an edible barcode that can be scanned with most popular mobile devices.

The new tablets, referred to as “smart pills,” have three features conducive to tracing and transparency. First, the pills are coated with a Colorcon substance that has spectrally-encoded particles – known as TruTags – that essentially play the role of barcodes that are safe to consume.

Second, a verification application that can be downloaded on any common smart phone can read the code and identify the TruTag. Third is a Trillian-based distributed ledger that the individual pill can be referenced against using the app. The distributed ledger will be managed by PwC.

As a result, each pill can be linked to a secure digital record, which has significant applications for supply chain transparency in the pharmaceutical sector. As pills become easier to trace and regulate, the solution is expected to benefit produces as the regulatory constraints loosen to some extent.

Smart pills bring several benefits to patients and industry

Smart pills also have the potential to improve patient non-adherence, and make communication between medical practitioners and patients clearer and more accurate. Patients will threrefore benefit not only from increasing trust in the origins of their medication, but also from a more efficient consultation process. 

To date, the digitalisation of medicines has been much inhibited by the regulatory and technical limitations. The trio of companies now believe that, with this technology, they have achieved a breakthrough, enabling a major step forward in the further roll out of smart pills.

Commenting on the new solution, PwC Australia New Ventures Partner Trent Lund said, “Verifiable data ledger technology offers a new means of securing and sharing information. However, these systems are still reliant on ensuring a secure link via a crypto-anchor between the physical and digital world. TruTags are a perfect crypto-anchor for directly marking pharmaceuticals and foods.”

General Manager for Film Coatings of Colorcon Kelly Boyer added, “Intelligent coatings represent an incredible opportunity for patient communication and data collection. This technology represents a new era of security and transparency for the pharmaceutical industry in which patients can be empowered to authenticate their own medicines.”

Supply chain integrity and transparency is becoming an increasingly central demand for consumers across Australia, including in the food chain. To this end, PwC also has a team and platform dedicated to food trust, while similarly, Big Four accounting and advisory firm KPMG recently developed a supply chain transparency solution for the food industry.