Is Blockchain Really the Answer to China’s Pharma Problems?

China has been facing drastic pharmaceutical problems as recently, a report was published covering the pharma scandal by ChangChun Changsheng Bio-technology, a pharmaceutical firm based in Jilin.

The report says that ChangChun Changsheng sold about 252,000 inadequate DPT vaccines and faked data related to the production of 113,000 unsuitable rabies vaccines. The former impacted the province with population of about 100 million people and resulted in a serious uproar.

Apart from this, similar events happened in the past, like selling of about 400,000 inferior DPT vaccines to Chongqing and Hebei by Wuhan Institute of Biological Products has caused natives of China to withdraw their trust and confidence on vaccines made in China. Practices of selling harmful and threatening vaccines which may affect infants has angered and at the same time disappointed many parents living in China. Some parents like Lin have decided to not rely on Chinese vaccination as he said:

I [and my family] will not be having any more vaccinations on the mainland until the government takes real and serious steps to resolve this issue.

And on another occasion, Li, mother of a child, left some deep concerns by sharing her views. She said:

Vaccines directly relate to children’s health. This scandal really saddens me….Can we now only ensure our children’s health if we give them imported food and imported medicine?

Chinese vaccinations, after exposure of these incidents, have caused outcry and panic among public. The sensitivity of matter can be realized from the fact that stakes revolving around the matter involves infants, whose health can’t be compromised under any circumstances.

Under these unacceptable conditions, people have been pondering to their best to explore possible solutions and many have then raised the option of involving blockchain for rescuing them and lives of their children.

A solution involving blockchain was first proposed when a programmer on V2EX, after spending great deal of time in data mining and coding, found troublesome vaccines in 30 provinces. Sharing the difficulties encountered while processing and then fetching information with public, welcomed crypto community in China to highlight the credentials of blockchain as a solution.

The solution to problem encompassing blockchain is gaining popularity due to several reasons. Li Xiaolai, stated that DLT, which contains all the necessary information of vaccines like its producer, supplier, receiver and price, could be possibly adhered to solve the problem. He explained the benefits of doing so by expressing his understandings:

With a traceable chain of data, it’s easier to hold people accountable once a vaccine is found with problems. … And for children who might be harmed by problematic vaccines, it will be also easier for them to claim for damages.

A financial commentator at China Finance Online, Zhipeng Cheng, in his report, also supported the idea of using blockchain. His idea revolved around formation of public chain by NIFDC to track vaccines. He is confident in blockchain so much that he urged China to use it. Regarding the use of blockchain by country,he suggested China must:

Embrace blockchain and put it into practice.

Unfortunately along with the positive side of blockchain as a solution, traces of pessimism linked with blockchain are also found in China. People are doubting the reliability with the counterarguments against the usage of blockchain. The possibility of unauthentic data entering on nodes even before the production of vaccines voids the use of blockchain completely for solving the problem. Possibility of forging data  even in later stages of chain also nullifies the use of blockchain according to many people.

Besides these possible flaws, people even doubt the likelihood of formation of a potential mathematical algorithm solving the health crisis. Uncertainty on blockchain’s potential is quite evident on DoNews, where a commentator said:

Blockchain technology cannot put an end to the production of the problematic vaccines, and it would even be hard to change the status quo – because the operation of this industry is deeply centralized. It is simply an abysmal ‘black box.’ Nobody can really be sure about the trace of the internal operation until any serious problems leak again. Once that happens, its “system” would give you some sort of ‘data’ which would make you feel stupid.

Health problems faced by China at the moment need some efficient solution and that too immediately to avoid any mass unrest. Prospect of blockchain is still debatable in playing its role but it doesn’t completely rule out as an option because no one has yet answered to the question  “What, if not blockchain?”

Fatir Malik

Electrical engineer by profession, turned into blockchain developer. Fatir contributes regularly with his insights about latest developments in fintech sector. Contact the editor at

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