There are people who say blockchain application development can do crazy things, like helping to solve the opioid crisis, or maybe even revolutionize the pharmaceutical industry.
And it's high time that blockchain is given the chance to show the pharmaceutical industry exactly what it can do. Here's why.
Benefits of Blockchain Application Development
Once upon a time, blockchain's powers were limited only to the financial world and bitcoin.
Now, we know that blockchain application development can have a powerful impact in pharmaceuticals.
The idea behind blockchain is reasonably simple. That's what makes it so brilliant. The blockchain is a huge, decentralized database distributed over a network of users and computers, with no one person holding the keys to the chain.
It's also transparent - all users can see changes made to the chain, but by design, they cannot change anything once it has been entered thanks to a chain of timestamps and links connecting each consecutive block all the way back to the original block.
In other words, the only way to hack blockchain is to attack the entire chain at once, while users are still adding new links, despite the fact that there is no central system to attack.
Starting to get the picture? Here are three key ways blockchain application development can help the pharmaceutical industry specifically.
Improve Speed and Trustworthiness of Clinical Trials
Let's talk about clinical trials. Getting a pharmaceutical drug tested, approved and on the market is a lengthy, remarkably complicated process that takes years of data.
Not being able to ensure the integrity of that data comes at a huge cost - GlaxoSmithKline paid $3 billion in fines for promoting an antidepressant for unapproved uses and failing to report safety data about its top diabetes drug. This was the largest settlement to date involving a pharmaceutical company.
Blockchain application development for pharmaceuticals removes the question of verifiable data because the data in the chain is impossible to falsify once entered.
And because anyone with access can see the chain, there can be no question of a lack of data at any point in the process.
You don't need to trust blockchain because it isn't necessary. The technology ensures data integrity in every transaction, and because every transaction in the chain is connected, the historicity and traceability of the data are easy to follow - remember, each transaction is linked and timestamped.
Improving Pharmaceutical Supply Chains
Perhaps the biggest benefit of blockchain application development is the improvement of pharmaceutical supply chains.
Think about it. Even with the incredible degree of monitoring that pharmaceutical companies and their products are subject to, their supply chains are incredibly complex.
Even for a single drug.
So you can understand the pressing need to ensure the chemical composition of the drug based on where it's been in the supply chain. And the frightening truth is that a pharmacist and a patient don't have a sure way of knowing where the drug they're getting is actually coming from.
The patient has to wholly rely on their pharmacist, and their pharmacist has no way of testing whether a drug is counterfeit, poorly manufactured or spoiled during shipment.
The Problem for Pharmaceutical Supply Chains
This is where blockchain can help.
Even with a paper trail, there's no real way for anyone in the supply chain process to fully know where a drug is coming from. Most of what they have is useless information related to when a drug was shipped.
So the suppliers, too, have to trust that the person who came before them was transparent about what they're providing, as the system in place cannot account for the threat involved between steps in the supply chain.
And it's not just a matter of company quality assurances. The drugs being handled involve a real risk to human health if the label doesn't match the active ingredients or if the drug is counterfeit.
The Blockchain Solution
Arguably blockchain's greatest power is in supply chains - and that's why blockchain application development can revolutionize pharmaceutical supply chains.
By introducing blockchain to pharmaceutical supply chains, all of these processes can be automated (with far more information than previously available) to make sure that staff along each step of the way know right away when something isn't right in the supply chain.
It also makes it easier to see the whole history of a drug, since the whole process is being checked, updated, and revalidated at every checkpoint.
As such, instead of sifting through massive amounts of data looking for the one piece that's actually relevant, it's possible to spot errors faster and make informed business decisions based on that data.
Counterfeit drugs make up a $35 billion dollar industry and account for about 15% of all drugs sold (and, in Africa and Asia, more than triple that amount).
These days, there are prototypes in development to ensure that the right drugs reach their final destination, like CryptoSeal, which contains a chip with a unique identification number which is registered and verified on the blockchain, as well the recorded identity of the registrant and packaging, or asset metadata.
Finally, there's the benefit from the patient side.
In this brave new world we live in, there are smartphone-based treatment adherence apps.
The thing about these programs is that they record a vast amount of data on patient behavior, as well as the effects of treatment on their day-to-day life.
Using blockchain to record the data would allow the process to be automated and, as in the supply chain, make it much easier to sift through and verify significant amounts of data.
Using smart bots to peruse this data would then, in turn, give the administrator recommendations on the progress of treatment and how to proceed based on the historical data.
Using Blockchain to Empower Your Company
Like we said: blockchain application development is a revolution in what technology can do.
So why are you missing out?
We develop IoT and blockchain solutions that provide real-time, actionable intelligence, without any of the data that isn't actually useful to you. Because it's not just about performing better than your competitors - it's about using those solutions the smart way.
Interested in IoT or blockchain? Ready to work with us? We're ready for you. Check out our contact page to get started.