As much as one-third of medication is unusable by the time it is supposed to be taken as a result of poor storage of temperature-sensitive medicines due to insufficient supply chain management and failure of patients to correctly store prescriptions, according to a case study provided by Vodafone. A single medicine can see as many as 30 handovers from the time it leaves the factory to the time it is in the patient’s hands. AntTail used its sensors with the Vodafone “internet of things” platform to reduce medical waste caused by poor supply chain management.
“The biggest problem is with the last mile,” said Mark Roemers, CEO and founder of AntTail, “From the pharmacist to the patient. Patients know they have to store their medication in the fridge, but they are not always as rigorous as they should be.”
Recent research with the University of Maastricht suggests less than 10% of medicines are being stored correctly, and a further 10% were rendered useless.
Pharmaceutical supply chains are typically long and fragmented – making medication vulnerable to temperature variation. Current temperature monitoring systems only deliver part of the puzzle. The full view from manufacturing to patient is not available. So AntTail, a company that does remote monitoring, created a solution for the last mile to help make medicines more effective and improving patient health.
“The pharmaceutical industry is governed by quality,” Roemers said. “They will spend money on quality issues and compliance because the risks of not doing so are huge. There were big questions around gaps in the supply chain, and no answers. AntTail wanted a solution to this.”
The AntTail solution is to attach a six-by-two centimeter sensor to medication packaging. These sensor can detect changes in temperature, movement and light, but requires a network to provide the necessary connectivity required for asset tracking.
Vodafone IoT connectivity solution
AntTail uses Vodafone’s Managed IoT Connectivity Platform to connect its sensors.
“I’ve worked with Vodafone since 2003,” Roemers said. “It was an obvious choice. Not many companies can provide coverage from Norway to Southern Spain and across to Russia. Our idea was never going to stay local.”
The platform allows AntTail to install the SIM during production and to be activated by customers as required.
“We’ve been working with 100 patients and so far we have completed over 700 shipments,” Roemers said. “From a 10% success rate to 90%, that’s not bad. We are still working to improve the last 10%.”
AntTail has 4,000 SIMs on order for the Netherlands and has received interest from seven other European markets including Germany, which would require more than 20,000 SIMs.
“We have everything we need to grow the business. We use Amazon to store the data and Vodafone IoT for the SIMs and the platform,” Roemers said. “The platform stays the same whatever the size, the rest is just a question of dialing up. It is the ideal set up to accelerate the business.”