At its very core, blockchain is a distributed ledger system with verifiable transactions. Through every subsequent transaction, the ledger is encrypted and verifiable throughout the chain. If there is a ledger with 100 transactions, for instance, each transaction is verifiable through its previous and subsequent transaction. In short, blockchain can provide anonymity and trust to verify and audit any activity.
This brings forward integrity and privacy, with a transaction having the potential to be nearly anything. In the case of food traceability, for instance, a superstore could easily identify which farm a head of broccoli came from. In pharmaceuticals, a drug could be traced the same way.
Uses Of Blockchain In Pharma
One could make the argument that blockchain was built for the pharmaceutical industry, due to the industry’s strict privacy practices, laws and global regulations. Blockchain can help solve inherent problems that may arise because of this.
The technology can be used to give more confidence in the privacy of information in clinical trials, which will open the door for people to be open to providing more information. This can also lead to shorter cycles for drug development and discovery. A BioMed Central report touches on how reproducibility of clinical research studies has been an issue for quite some time and using blockchain technology can combine privacy with secure, decentralized tracking of all data.
There are also different applications for the use of blockchain in clinical trials, such as the development of public registries. Disclosing clinical trial results data is quickly becoming a top priority for large and small pharmaceutical companies alike, with 60% of pharma companies currently utilizing or experimenting with blockchain, according to a study by the Pistola Alliance. This would allow a person to participate in a clinical trial without anyone else knowing. Using blockchain may help eliminate the fear that many people have of their data being compromised while participating in a clinical trial. If more people are comfortable with providing data, more lives can be saved by creating better life-changing therapies.
For health care in general, the industry would be able to give patients confidence that their verifiable information would be protected. The pharmaceutical industry is continuously exploring the Blockchain platform to help with several real-world use cases. The use cases include storing patient health data safely, accelerating clinical trials, and ultimately lowering drug development costs.
1. Manufacturing Supply Chain
One of several critical issues in pharmaceutical supply chain manufacturing is the incredible number of incompatible computer systems that provide virtually no visibility of end-user sales to manufacturers. The problems resulting from this complicated situation could easily be avoided with blockchain by offering real-time access to data and profiles across the entire pharmaceutical supply chain, from the product codes of the manufacturer of ingredients to the pharmacy offering prescriptions to patients. Suppliers are currently operating without a shared ledger, creating a broad infrastructure gap and little-to-no protection for its participants.
2. Counterfeit Medicine
Counterfeit drugs are distributed throughout a very complex network, making them difficult to detect and remove. To prevent counterfeit drugs from being distributed, a system is needed that can trace and track drug delivery at every stage. Blockchain is the latest innovation that can handle the complex supply chain and track the product at every stage.
3. Drug Safety
The key concerns surrounding the safety of drugs in the pharmaceutical supply chain are how the drugs are initially made. Traceability of active pharmaceutical ingredients during actual manufacturing is a complicated process, so the detection of drugs that do not contain the required active ingredients can ultimately lead to patient harm or even death. The number of deaths connected to these issues has increased in recent years. Blockchain’s advanced features enable it to provide the basis for complete traceability of drugs, from manufacturer to end-user, and the ability to identify exactly where the supply chain breaks down during the issue.
4. Clinical Trial Management
There are many cases of use for the integration of blockchain into the management process of clinical trials. However, they stand out for their significant potential. The first is the supply chain for big molecules. More biotech companies are producing vast molecular medicines from different backgrounds, creating an enormous need for a digital ledger to define and verify the various points along the road to a final product for the consumer. Governing all of these studies and complex data requires a secure, decentralized lead.
5. Inventory Management
Despite the attempts of supply chain managers, the planning of inventories based on demand for pharmaceuticals can be daunting without sufficient visibility in the supply chain. A blockchain-based system will allow manufacturers to control inventory rates effectively to plan for demand spikes. With greater clarity in the inventory of wholesalers, manufacturers would be able to manage their inventory levels for a shorter overall hold period, creating efficient product flow and steady financial gains. As companies and inventories grow, these serialized tracking and tracing features of blockchain technology will become increasingly necessary for pharmaceutical organizations.
6. Consumer Awareness and Public Awareness
There are several public safety concerns where blockchain can boost the efficacy of providing a safe and reliable drug to end-user patients. By making real-time data available by pressing a button, pharmacies and other retailers can improve their internal and external inventories by tracking product movements from in-store and in-transit information. Blockchain will fill holes in pharmaceutical supply chains globally and reduce their direct effects on the general population.
It is critical to have a coherent framework for trustworthiness and healthy practice for both patients and the community. Blockchain incorporates these values by generating informative, real-time responses to events that could potentially affect patient health, such as life-saving prescription drug debuts and product recalls. Recall management is another problem that blockchain can address by better handling the mechanism of reminding the public of these forms of significant announcements. Up to one million people lose their lives each year worldwide due to these forms of mistakes, and better monitoring through the supply chain will have a massive impact on the existing pharmaceutical supply chain model.
- The Future Applications of Blockchain in the Pharma Industry – https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2018/11/14/how-blockchain-will-revolutionize-the-pharmaceutical-industry/?sh=3767159726e5
- Uses Of Blockchain In Pharma – https://www.blockchain-council.org/blockchain/top-use-cases-of-blockchain-in-pharma/