As a part of its continued digitalisation efforts, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has launched the region’s first pharmaceutical track-and-trace system, Tatmeen. With the new system, which will monitor each stage of drug production, the country aims to boost transparency, eliminate the sale of counterfeit medicines, build trust in the legitimate pharmaceutical industry and strengthen its supply chain.
In the UAE’s latest digital transformation step, the country’s Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP), the Department of Health-Abu Dhabi (DoH), and the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) have announced the launch of the drug tracking platform that has been two years in the making, Tatmeen. The new system can trace pharmaceutical products from origin to expiration date through its serial number scans and as a single integrated digital platform accessible through the website or via the app, Tatmeen connects federal and local authorities to factories, distributors, pharmacies, and patients.
The platform enables the tracking of drug products through the entire supply chain on a single digital platform. This will certainly benefit society by making health and drug services provided more accessible and efficient
Ahmed Ali Al Dashti, the health ministry assistant-undersecretary
The Tatmeen platform is the most recent move in the UAE health ministry’s push towards digitalisation, a push that already saw the launch of a unified medical records platform in 2021, and it is directly aligned with the government’s directives to digitalize vital services to improve their quality and speed.
“Tatmeen platform represents a significant change in the healthcare industry, incorporating cutting-edge technologies and advanced equipment,” said Ahmed Ali Al Dashti, the health ministry’s assistant-undersecretary for the Support Services Sector. “The platform offers comprehensive health and drug services to the public and enables the tracking of drug products through the entire supply chain on a single digital platform. This will certainly benefit society by making health and drug services provided more accessible and efficient,” he added.
UAE health authorities partnered with UAE-based digital solution provider, EVOTEQ, to develop and operate the new system and in 2020 began a trial period. “The solution will ensure greater accountability from participants in the healthcare supply chain and accelerate our ability to trace drugs at every point of the supply chain,” said Awad Saghir Al Ketbi, assistant undersecretary of the Support Services for the ministry at the time.
The spread of counterfeit medicines is not unique to UAE or the region. In a 2017 review, the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Surveillance and Monitoring System for substandard and falsified medical products analysed 1,500 cases and concluded that the problem is a global one. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is, however, plagued with a high prevalence of counterfeit drugs, particularly those originating from Southeast Asia. These imitation products undermine patients’ trust in legitimate drugmakers and cost these legitimate companies enormous losses in terms of revenues (some USD 200 billion a year globally) as well as brand protection costs.
The Tatmeen platform is set to support the growth of the legitimate pharmaceutical market in the UAE by reducing illegal sale and proliferation of counterfeit medicines in the market. In addition, the new tracking system is expected to build public trust as well as industry confidence. In a recent forecast, Fitch Solutions estimated that the total UAE pharmaceutical expenditure would increase from USD 3.9bn in 2022 to USD 5.3bn in 2027.
“The platform adheres to the cutting-edge GS1 digital sequencing standards, imparting greater transparency and trust in the pharmaceutical industry,” said Ali Al Ajmi, director of the Digital Health Department, MoHAP.
Another important benefit of the new system is that it will allow for authorities to gain an overview of the entire drug supply chain. Through real-time tracking and tracing, the platform will allow health authorities to forecast demand, ensure supply of medicines that are in high demand and avoid medicine shortages. In addition, with Tatmeen local authorities can react to emergency situations and when required be able to quickly move drugs from one location to another. In light of the supply chain vulnerabilities revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic, this capacity is especially relevant.
Find out more about the tremendous healthcare momentum underway in the UAE and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in PharmBoardroom’s Future of Healthcare in the GCC report.