This interview is part of our new Blockchain In Healthcare series, where we interview the world's leading thought leaders on the front lines of the intersections between blockchain and healthcare.
In this interview we speak with Arnaud Pourredon, Co-founder and President of Meditect, to understand how his company is using blockchain to transform the healthcare business, and what the future of the industry holds.
1. What’s the story behind Meditect? Why and how did you begin?
AP: I studied medicine, pharmacy and public health at the University of Bordeaux and I pursued a number of philanthropic endeavours to various charitable organizations. My first humanitarian mission took place in Nepal where I was in charge of the distribution of medicines after the big earthquake in 2015. Until then, I couldn’t imagine how worrisome it was to deliver pills which were potentially not authentic. I took part in several other humanitarian missions in remote areas of South America and Asia where I faced the parallel drug market again. It was disturbingly clear that counterfeit medicines were booming worldwide and ruin a million of lives every year. How revolting!
As an altruist, I made the decision to get a gap year, and created Meditect with my friend Romain Renard. It was pretty scary at the time but looking back, it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Romain Renard was the appropriate person to run successfully the project with me. He graduated from Sciences Po Paris where he developed an interest in public health issues. In 2015, he participated in a humanitarian mission that led him to the Mauritanian border, where he noticed critical issues regarding the lack of health infrastructures and limited access to quality medicines.
The biggest challenge was to find the right people to support us.
We followed lawyers‘ advices to create our society. We raised money. We contacted the Region Nouvelle Aquitaine which has been supporting us since the beginning, when I won the price When Doctors Meet Hackers in October 2017. And after many appointments, we found business angels who help us financially too. As a consequence, we employ qualified and motivated developers and create a dynamic team. We attend many fairs in Europe and Africa. We are awarded distinctions, among which one from the MIT ( best European Tech startup in October 2018) and another from Forbes magazine ( selected in the Europe Science and Healthcare 30/30 in February 2019). And last but not least, we signed our first contract in January 2019 with a very important French laboratory. These promising beginnings testify our brewing success.
Indeed, Meditect is the response to a major public health concern. Our goal is to ensure the authenticity and traceability of medicine using a decentralized technology. Thanks to our free application available on smartphones, every user can verify the authenticity of medicines immediately by scanning the datamatrix on the medicine’s package and it gives more information too. It is based on an innovative technique because outside of my studies, I am fond of blockchain and artificial intelligence. I am convinced about their benefits in the field of health.
2. Please describe your use case and how Meditect uses blockchain:
AP: With Meditect, people can trust the medicine because the legal distribution is strengthened.
Patients and health professionals scan with a smartphone the package of the medicine to ensure that it is genuine.
Checking instant verification is possible because we aggregate on our blockchain the serialized medicine exported to Africa. This technique is transparent, immutable, costless and robust.
Thanks to our technology, we bring the most trustworthy information to check if the medicine is genuine or not.
3. Could you share a specific customer/user that benefits from what you offer? What has your service done for them?
AP: Our first client is a French pharmaceutical company which exports medicines to Africa. On the one hand, we secure all their medicine. On the other hand, thanks to a specific dashboard, we analyse the collected data in order to let the laboratory understand what is happening on the field.
4. What other blockchain healthcare use cases are you excited about?
AP: We must bear in mind blockchain is an innovative technique which, like every new technology, has its pros and cons. Blockchain is not a revolution, it is just an evolution which offers more confidence. As a result, there are not many use cases which are improved thanks to the blockchain technology. Nevertheless, it does promote the improving of medical record access and the improving of clinical trials.
Blockchain is to be used only when you need to provide confidence because blockchain is the technology which guarantees trust.
5. Where will Meditect be in 5 years?
AP: As regards the future, we will follow our ethical principles : to put our energy to the service of the people of emerging countries. We will help to eradicate the scourge of falsified medicine thanks to our application. Through it, we strengthen the public health in the world and we expect to empower patients.
We will become the essential actor for the pharmaceutical laboratories that want to secure the medicine they export .
We will employ more people to improve our technology and set a light- hearted R&D program. Thanks to the blockchain technology, trust will be present in the developing countries. Day by day, we make our dream and ambition alive through hard work and creativity.
And consequently, we will spread into the neighbouring countries around the Ivory Coast where we have already settled.
Within five years, Western Africa will be protected from counterfeit medicines.