I had the opportunity to speak with Mark Roemers, CEO, of AntTail, the manufacturer of an IoT device that tracks pharmaceutical supply chains to the pharmacy and even to the customer
Interesting facts to consider if you spend money on medicine for you or a loved one:
- 35% of vaccines and medicines are outside of the specifications due to temperature variance over the life of the pharmaceutical supply chain.
- Pharmaceuticals are a $158 billion market, so $55 billion worth of the vaccines and medicines we spend money on are ineffective before we take them.
- The pharmaceutical supply chain consists of an average of 30 hand-offs, 15 warehouses, and 15 trucks, or planes. Pharmaceutical companies are using 1970’s technology to monitor the environment of the goods in transport.
- A study in the Netherlands showed that less than 10% of medications are stored at the right temperature (2-8 Celsius) in the patient’s refrigerator.
Pharmaceutical supply chains are long and fragmented. As such, they are vulnerable to temperature variation and counterfeiting. Current temperature monitoring systems deliver an incomplete picture of the supply chain from manufacturing to patient.
AntTail has developed a SaaS IoT temperature monitoring solution that gives pharmaceutical companies a full view into the entire supply chain and ensures medicine quality for patients. But it’s not only the patient that benefits.
Third-party logistics providers benefit by:
- Independent monitoring across the entire delivery spectrum: trucks, reefers, and airplanes.
- Data is available online and offline.
- Data integrates with back-office software.
Pharmaceutical companies benefit by:
- Having warehouse, logistics, pharmacy, and patient monitoring on the same platform.
- Monitoring on a unit, case, or pallet level.
- Automated collection of data.
- Data integrates with quality tracking systems and back-office.
This is important because medicine that gets too warm degrades and medicine that gets too cold, or freezes, can be ruined or cause allergic reactions due to frozen proteins.
While the shipment of medicine is regulated in the U.S. and Europe, the regulations are out of date as are the technologies being used to monitor the medicine. Sensor technology from the 1970’s does not track the entire supply chain nor do they collect and report data automatically.
Taking the technology one step further, AntTail followed the medicine between the pharmacist and the patient – a.k.a. “the last mile” – which is not regulated, and found that patients typically only keep their medicine in the recommended temperature range less than 10% of the time. So if the medicine has not degraded during the transportation process to the pharmacy, it has a 90% chance of doing so once it gets in the hands of the consumer.
As anyone involved in pharmaceuticals is aware, compliance and persistence are huge issues for patients who are notorious for only taking medications when they remember or when they feel like it.
In addition to letting patients know when their medicine is not being stored at the correct temperature, AntTail sensors also remind patients when its time to take their medicine and are able to provide data back to the doctor regarding patient compliance.
To date, results of this pilot are showing success rates of 99% with regards to keeping the medicine at the proper temperature and patients taking the medicine at the prescribed intervals.
Like most successful entrepreneurs, Mark, a former developer, saw the problem and addressed it. He’s using the Mendix development platform, which enabled him to rapidly develop an application that harnesses all the sensor data stored on Amazon Web Services and makes it actionable within his customers’ processes. It took him two weeks to get his application up and running. Because Mendix uses visual models, he didn’t have to write a single line of code.
How do we get the FDA, other worldwide governing bodies, and pharmaceutical companies to move this quickly to ensure the medicines we are spending billions of dollars on annually remain as efficacious as the day they were manufactured?