Emerging Blockchain Applications in the Pharmaceutical Industry
The pharmaceutical industry regularly participates in the development of new drugs, filing patents and funding clinical trials. Blockchain offers new methods for documenting proof of work, user validation and smart contracts. Health care facilities are rethinking the ways in which they manage, record and store data; blockchain has the potential to completely transform the industry, offering transparency and security to everyone involved in pharmaceutical transactions. Here are four interesting blockchain applications that are emerging in the pharmacy industry today.
- Improving the Speed and Trustworthiness of Clinical Trials
Getting a new drug tested and approved by the FDA requires a long, complicated and expensive process. Some drugs take years and billions of dollars for approval. Clinical trials generate a lot of data that must be shared. The more people that are working on the trials, the more complex and expensive the process. Establishing that a new drug is safe is a scientific challenge but also a data challenge as well. Blockchain could have a major impact on the integrity of the data from start to finish throughout the process. Blockchain technology ensures the trustworthiness of the data through cryptographic validation of each and every transaction, and, because every transaction is connected, the history of every data process is easy to follow due to transaction linkages and timestamps.
- Improving Pharmaceutical Supply Chains
A major challenge within the industry is the assurance of the quality of drugs. Counterfeit drugs make up roughly 15 percent of all drugs sold in the U.S., creating a $35 billion industry. Drug supply chains are complicated; there are many reasons why a medication would not meet quality standards upon delivery. With blockchain technology, every step within the supply chain can be automated and validated, ensuring products are shipped from one destination to the next while being monitored on blockchain.
- Smart Contracts
A Smart Contract is a decentralized contractual system that occurs between all parties involved, saving time and the need for an intermediary (i.e. lawyer or bank). Smart contracts are also referred to as self-executing contracts, blockchain contracts or digital contracts. These contracts are converted to computer code, stored and replicated in the network of computers that operate the blockchain. A Smart Contract system can help health care organizations send patient health data without worry that data will be compromised. For example, if a prescription is sent to a pharmacy, everyone involved (doctor, pharmacist, patient and insurance company) can be assured that it is authentic. Another expected use of the Smart Contract involves medical supplies. In the case of an emergency, medical supplies can be sent very quickly because the order is secure and there will not be a “middleperson” to slow it down.
- Improving Patient Data Tracking and Reporting
An emerging technology is the use of smartphones to ensure that patients are adhering to their medication and treatment prescriptions. Sensors and blockchain are used to collect and record a vast amount of data on each patient, including how their treatment is affecting their daily life. Smart bots will be able to process the data collected on the blockchain and provide recommendations for treatment adjustments if needed.
Blockchain will drive digital innovations in the pharmaceutical industry that will have a positive impact on millions of lives. The combination of block chain technology, smart contracts and artificial intelligence will certainly bring changes that will help us live longer and healthier lives.
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