How to utilize blockchain technology in the pharma industry
Before talking about the role of blockchain technology in the pharma industry, we should refresh our memory of what blockchain is in the first place. The term is no doubt familiar to most of us through the world of cryptocurrency, so it may sound odd talking about it in this context. However, a blockchain simply refers to a distributed database or ledger that is shared among the nodes of a computer network. The advantage it gives is its ability to keep data records safe without the need for a trusted third party. And the name? Well, it comes from the fact that blockchains store data in units called blocks, which are then connected by means of encryption.
Pharmaceutical companies have already seen success when it comes to applying blockchain to certain areas of their business. In this article, we will explore the many ways how one can use blockchain technology in the pharma industry, from supply chain and serialization reinforcement to ensuring transparency of clinical trials. It will hopefully inspire you to utilize this most valuable of tools that should not simply be relegated to the crypto investment scene.
1. Supply chain tracking
The quality and resilience of your supply chain can make or break your entire pharma business. A lot of the industry’s supply chain issues can be resolved through blockchain. The technology’s improved capabilities contain the groundwork for the complete traceability of medications, from makers to end users, as well as the capacity to identify the precise point at which the pharmaceutical supply chain fails in the event of a problem.
Every time a drug is handled, from production, shipping, and registration through warehousing and sales, each transaction can be logged into the blockchain and tracked. The usage of blockchain in the pharma industry could make it possible to identify the last stakeholders that a product travelled through in the event that there was ever an issue with the delivery of drugs or treatments.
And that is not all. Blockchain might also be used for cold chain tracking, as it enables producers to monitor and confirm the consistency of medications’ temperature along the supply chain in accordance with policies and criteria established by groups like the FDA and WHO. This also makes it reliable in the prevention of diversion and counterfeiting. In these cases, it mimics many of the advantages of real-time monitoring.
2. Regulatory compliance
All pharma companies must comply with regulations set by relevant regulatory bodies. Blockchain technology will be essential to the pharmaceutical industry’s capacity to adhere to these rules. Regulations such as the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) by the US and the EU Falsified Medicines Directive 2011/62/EU (FMD) have been created to guarantee drug safety and regulate their serialization practices. Not adhering to these rules can mean legal action taken against your company, not to mention make you unable to do business. The use of blockchain technology in the pharma industry is the best way to meet these requirements because it is transparent and allows for secure data flow. On a blockchain network, regulatory audits will be simple because the ledger is distributed and unchangeable.
3. Transparency and anonymity in clinical trials
As we have already mentioned, blockchain is really helpful in clinical trials. For the patients taking part in these tests, transparency and anonymity are the most important factors. Blockchain technology can be leveraged by pharma businesses to increase process transparency and trust. It can be used to store trial data because it is a distributed ledger system. The clinical trial protocols are now more open as a result. At every point of the clinical trial procedure, patients can get the necessary information from the ledger and comprehend the advances taking place and the hazards associated.
Managing patient consent is another crucial use of blockchain technology in the pharma industry. Clinical studies frequently experience consent-related problems, including unapproved forms, unsigned consent documents, missing protocols, failing to inform patients about amended protocols, etc. This issue is resolved by the use of time stamps on consent forms and protocol changes that patients can check at any moment thanks to blockchain technology. No one can alter the data because the ledger is immutable.
4. Safer and more reliable serialization practices
The ability to deduce serial numbers is a key component of counterfeit pharmaceuticals’ ability to produce a product that appears genuine. Avastin, a cancer treatment from Roche, was found to be available in the US in a counterfeit form in 2012. Counterfeiting is made possible by advances in duplicating and printing technology as well as internet pharmacies’ capacity to hide the origin of their items.
A batch of valid serial numbers can be created if a single vial from a sequential serialization program is available. These fake products will reach the patient because the serial number is one of the only methods for authenticating a product. Blockchain prevents this by virtually making it impossible to predict a legitimate number.
5. Improved research and development
Blockchain technology in the pharma industry could benefit R&D in several ways. First off, blockchain has the potential to significantly enhance partnerships between businesses, academia, and other R&D cycle firms by enabling frictionless communication among several parties. Additionally, improved licensing and patent communication between businesses may be made possible by technology. Smart contracts could also be used to manage licenses and other IP agreements. It could also potentially enhance data mining and analysis of information in published and newly generated studies when combined with other cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Blockchain is a valuable technology that should not remain confined to the world of cryptocurrency. It can be utilized in a range of different industries and certainly in pharmaceuticals. The benefits that blockchain can bring to the pharma world benefits areas such as supply chain optimization, regulatory compliance, clinical trials, serialization, as well as research and development. You would be hard-pressed to find another aspect of tech that can so completely impact an industry.
The role of blockchain technology in the pharma industry is still not fully clear. It is up to innovators to try and utilize it to its full potential. This is the time to put in the effort and be on the right side of history as blockchain becomes a bigger and bigger part of the biotech world. If you would like help with modernizing and optimizing your pharma business or anything else regarding serialization or track & trace, then check out our services here. Alternatively, email us directly at email@example.com for direct enquiries regarding specific problems you have.
Let us keep building a safer and more connected pharma world.