Pharmaceutical industry and blockchain: the FDA launches its pilot

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must find a solution to trace and verify drug prescriptions by 2023. Several technologies are being tested, including blockchain.

Walmart and IBM have joined this government initiative, the goal being to develop a complete traceability system for drug shipments supported by blockchain technology.

KPMG and Merck will also be involved in this pilot project.

Mark Treshock, IBM Global Solutions Leader for Blockchain in Healthcare & Life Sciences, specifies that: “The Blockchain has real transformative potential on the way pharmaceutical data is controlled, monitored, shared and managed throughout the life of a given drug.”

The US healthcare system operates under complete privatization which causes heavy stakeholder fragmentation. The implementation of a centralized means is therefore difficult. A more effective solution could be considered via a decentralized blockchain that would connect several independent databases.

Thus the FDA and its partners are in the process of developing an electronic and interoperable computer system to bring together various third parties. The main value proposition of blockchain in such a system is the ability to enable users and businesses to “track” their drugs without compromising their private data.

Blockchain serving the pharmaceutical industry is a multi-faceted tool. By launching its blockchain pilot, the FDA aims to maximize the benefits of this technology within the supply chain through its advantages of transparency, traceability and cost optimization.

Yet the case study on traceability only highlights a tiny potential contribution of blockchain to the pharmaceutical value chain. Besides manufacturing and distribution, blockchain can also improve R&D as well as patient and consumer care.

The main R&D case studies would impact the protection of intellectual property, the sharing of research data and the consent of clinical tests performed.

In the case of patients and consumers, blockchain would improve identity governance allowing patients to share their data with medical centers and insurance managers without losing control of their data.

Optimizing and strengthening data sharing would also be key to improving patient monitoring and care. Boehringer, a pharmaceutical company based in Germany, announced at the beginning of June 2019 a partnership with Solve.Care, a blockchain health platform, in order to design the “Diabetes Care Administration Network”, a service focused on the well-being of patients with diabetes.

This project will leverage Solve.Care’s already existing blockchain-based platform and facilitate data sharing in order to coordinate patient care more effectively. Solve.Care CEO Pradeep Goel explains that: “The ‘Diabetes Care Administration Network’ will help reconcile a lack of knowledge in patient follow-up to give them access to vital information on diabetes and cardiovascular disease much more easily.”.

Implementing a blockchain solution can benefit the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, either by providing a decentralized database or by protecting private data.

Original article by Lukas hofer published by our partner on:

Photo credit: @Simone van der Koelen on Unsplash

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