Blockchain in Pharma – A state of play
The most well-known application of blockchain technology in the Pharmaceutical space allows for tracking and monitoring of vaccines and medications from beginning to end throughout the supply chain.
This allows products and supply chain to be effectively tracked and validated, making it easier to identify problems and implement fixes. As a result, more rapid and effective detection and removal of counterfeit, faulty, or expired products from the market are possible.
Servblocks’ application of blockchain allows for the automation of many of the quality assurance processes in the manufacturing space. That could be as simple as automating the material verification process or as complex as ensuring outsourced manufacturing operates as if it was in-house.
In this edition of Biotech & Blockchain, we take a look at the current state of play and look at how some of the big names are currently implementing solutions.
Novartis is a leading innovator in the pharmaceutical industry, and they have been experimenting with blockchain technology for a long time. While working with the EU and the pharmaceutical industry in Europe, Novartis is looking into a partnership with small and medium-sized blockchain companies, tertiary educational institutions (such as hospitals), clinical labs, and so on.
Novartis uses Blockchain technology for:
· Patient data management
· Supply chain monitoring
· Clinical trial optimization
· Detection of counterfeit medicines (project still in its conceptual stages. Novartis generally adheres to accepted protocols.)
Additionally, they use running PoCs using different technologies to discover the differences. They have so far employed Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric and a proof-of-concept using R3's Corda in blockchain technology.
R3's Corda platform is a Distributed ledger technology - we are big fans here at Servblock and implement this for many of our customers
Pfizer & Sanofi
Pfizer and Sanofi have traditionally been fierce competitors in the pharmaceutical industry. However, both are working together to speed up clinical testing of new drugs, as the current process is riddled with problems. As a result, the companies believe that blockchain technology can alleviate current issues, speeding up processes and reducing drug development costs.
"Jaydev Thakkar, Digital Health Product Innovation Lead, said, We want to help each other so that we can run the clinical research engine to its fullest potential.
Sanofi, on the other hand, is exploring blockchain as new technology. Drug companies, including Pfizer and Sanofi, are experimenting with blockchain technology to make developing and testing new pharmaceuticals more streamlined and efficient. According to the companies involved, drug research expenses are expected to be reduced with blockchain technology. It is based on the Ethereum-based Quorum platform, and its goal is to use blockchain technology to stop counterfeit items from entering the supply chain.
Quorum is another platform integrated within Servblock a favorite for customers requiring tokenization of assets
The WHO (World Health Organization) has estimated that approximately 10% of the medicine sold worldwide is fake. Counterfeit drugs are a serious problem because they put people at risk and cost the industry a lot of money. Governments worldwide are tightening the supply chain integrity to reduce the global flow of counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Gardasil vaccines were traced using blockchain, initiated by Merck in 2020. COVID-19 immunizations are also being tracked to prevent practitioners from administering outdated vaccines.
Merck and AmerisourceBergen are partnering to develop a blockchain-based solution to prevent counterfeiting. Using blockchain they hope to label medicine deliveries (Advanced Track and Trace for Pharmaceuticals). The aim is that they will be able to trace the package using a mobile app, and the package's barcode will allow the manufacturer to verify its legitimacy if the item is returned. Pharma giant Merck is looking to patent a blockchain system to track items as they move through the supply chain.
Bayer is Leveraging Blockchain Technology for Digital Advertising
A while ago, the United States’ Association of National Advertisers (ANA) released a report highlighting the corrupt practices going on in the media and advertising industry. According to the report, media agencies intentionally kept advertisers in the dark about important information, information that would help them optimize their ad campaigns. Another ANA report states that advertisers lost $6.5 billion in 2017 due to the action of automated programs (commonly known as bots).
German pharmaceutical giant Bayer, in collaboration with AT&T, Kellogg and a couple of other companies are looking to analyze their advertisement campaigns using blockchain technology. Bayer is working with Amino payments, a blockchain-based company, to decipher which percentage of their ads are viewed by real people, which fraction are viewed by bots, and how much money they are losing to unscrupulous intermediaries.
The implementation of blockchain technology not only reduces the risks of giving patients fake medications but also ensures delivery transparency and lowers logistics expenses. As a result, patients benefit from a lower cost of the end product. However; proper legal support is necessary for the full implementation of blockchain technology in pharmacy.
Pashkov, V., & Soloviov, O. (2019). Legal implementation of blockchain technology in pharmacy. SHS Web of Conferences, 68, 01027. https://doi.org/10.1051/SHSCONF/20196801027
Haq, I., & Muselemu, O. (2018). Blockchain Technology in Pharmaceutical Industry to Prevent Counterfeit Drugs. International Journal of Computer Applications, 180(25), 8–12. https://doi.org/10.5120/IJCA2018916579