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Blockchain Tech For Indian Pharmaceutical Industry

Amit Ashwini
February 7, 2018

The pharma and medical industry houses a notable amount of personal and crucial information including financial information and health records which are essential to making decisions in the healthcare industry. It isn’t hard to understand why the healthcare industry presents such a lure to criminals. The existing security systems at many pharmaceutical and healthcare companies have been rendered outdated by new security threats.

For instance, without transferring a significant amount of data, ransomware encryption cripples the organization, which is what security systems, the traditional ones were created to protect. The blockchain is a great weapon against cyber-attacks like ransomware. It acts as a cost-saver across industries, besides guarding against evolving cyber-attacks.

The Blockchain

The Blockchain, a decentralized, distributed ledger is collectively managed by a bunch of stakeholders. Every entry in the ledger is secured cryptographically, and it is made immutable using cryptographic hashes by linking it to the previous entry. A blockchain node is run by each major stakeholder, which mirrors the transactions that happen in the network instantly, keeping the ledger in sync. Unlike centrally located traditional databases, blockchain makes it easy to share records across computer networks, as well as removing the single point of failure traditional databases come with as it is distributed over the networks.

Application in the pharmaceutical industry

It brings unprecedented transparency and security in Supply Chain Management (SCM). The blockchain is really useful in building a tamper-proof pharma Supply Chain Management, with original inbuilt security features to stop the circulation of substandard drugs and counterfeiting. Even at the level of individual Stock Keeping Unit (SKU), the blockchain will ensure the tracking of the supply chain for specific sources of any product, by establishing proof of ownership.

Improved movement and data management are crucial to reduce the time and cost of bringing new drugs from research labs to patients. Blockchain technology could fasten this process by automating communication between researchers, pharma companies, and patients. While ensuring a high level of data integrity at the same time, which is very important for health and safety interest of patients. In the recent years, this area has been gaining greater relevance as pharma innovators have to face various challenges to bring new personalized drugs faster, at affordable prices to the market.

In addition to this, the blockchain adds credibility and value to clinical trials. The fact that, while obtaining marketing approval for innovative products, a huge chunk of all clinical trial data undertaken by pharma players has not been reported has become a hot topic globally. Apparently, the reason behind this it is the intent of deliberately creating a gap in information by cherry picking more appealing trial data. This eventually might lead to seriously compromising patient safety. Allegations also state that the most favorable trial data was presented to doctors for product promotion too. Now if the blockchain supports the clinical trials, all protocols, results and other related information will be immutable and time-stamped, resulting in fewer errors and data snooping. Also, especially in this area, it would help increase the dwindling public trust in pharma.

 An immutable blockchain would mitigate selective reporting, data fudging and any risk of consent fraud. The two top hurdles to adoption are perceived to be regulatory issues and data privacy. These are both short-term hurdles. Regulators are globally reviewing how blockchain can help the industry and the blockchain community in adding data privacy to the platforms. A proof-of-value prototype is an excellent place to begin if you’re part of the industry, followed by a pilot with a limited set of partners. This will set you on the correct path to adoption with optimal outcomes and minimal risk.
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Amit Ashwini