The pharmaceuticals industry is leading the line in blockchain technology adoption as it holds great promise for the trillion-dollar industry. The technology’s key features such as security, immutability, and decentralisation are very attractive to pharmaceutical firms and the sector as a whole. Pharma has been exploring the technology actively looking for blockchain-based solutions to some pertinent industry problems. After years of testing and successful pilots, the technology is now ready for adoption in the pharmaceutical industry in a wide range of applications.
Supply chain logistics
Pharmaceutical firms are pushing for a blockchain-based interoperable supply chain management system through strong participation and adoption by all industry stakeholders. The proposal has been fronted by 25 leading stakeholders in the pharma supply chain following a successful pilot of the MediLedger program supervised by the US Food and Drug Administration. They seek to use blockchain technology to track and trace prescription drugs with the aim of monitoring product movements along the supply chain, reducing counterfeits, and verifying returned goods.
The blockchain-based supply chain infrastructure will replace the current industry standard that comprises a patchwork of multiple centralised databases. The decentralized network will share data about all participants in real time enabling tracking and tracing of drugs at any given moment. All prescription medicine will bear unique product identifiers for recording purposes and to facilitate monitoring efforts throughout the supply chain.
The blockchain based system also provides an effective anti-counterfeit solution with all participants along the supply chain able to scan the unique product identifiers to authenticate drugs. The Mediledger Project provides a blockchain-based network featuring a ‘Look-Up Directory’ and a messaging network that permissioned parties can access through the distributed ledger technology (DLT). Through this they can scan the product identifiers and securely request for verification over the network. This solution can also be applied in the verification of returned drugs as counterfeit products are often returned. This system is aimed at eliminating counterfeit drugs that cost the pharmaceutical industry over $200 billion.
The blockchain-based solutions enable data aggregation on a distributed database thus eliminating the need for individual firms to manage large volumes of data. This helps the firms to reduce errors, cost savings, and meeting compliance requirements. It also allows regulators easy access to the aggregated data rather than making individual requests to many firms operating within the industry. Regulators are able to review real time data for continuous compliance monitoring.
Clinical trials and data management
The pharmaceutical industry is adopting blockchain for clinical trials and data management through zero knowledge proof technology (ZKP). ZKP upholds the security of private documents and confidential information such as patents, clinical trials, and patient records stored on the blockchain. The technology was successfully piloted on the MediLedger project and its imminent adoption will ensure that pharmaceutical companies can securely store confidential information on blockchain-based databases.
There are only a few industries that have warmed up to blockchain technology and pharmaceuticals is a leading example. Pharmaceutical firms including manufacturers, distributors, logistic partners, and other representatives are pushing regulators towards adoption of the technology. With already tried, tested, and proven blockchain-based solutions it looks like they are now ready for adoption in 2020.
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