Blockchain has garnered a lot of attention across the public discourse, underpinning and keeping track of digital currency transactions. The technology has recognized as having wider value beyond enabling a decentralized alternative form of currency. As it is still in its infancy, the number of software options being built is growing significantly. In the life sciences sector, there are a lot of excitement regarding the deployment of blockchain. It has the potential to boost cross-industry partnership, integrity and confidence developed on consensus, interoperability, tracing, and tracking of tangible and intangible entities in diverse service and product pipelines for life sciences.
For collaborative research and development within life sciences, blockchain provides the possibility for trust to be hard coded than ever before. Its use cases are intricate to implement, and the rapidly changing landscape of blockchain presents a challenge for companies looking to adopt it.
While blockchain is blown up into the public awareness as the distributed ledger technology for digital currency Bitcoin and fintech quickly realized the technology’s potential, with multiple use cases now employed in areas like financial transactions and service or product life cycles, in a report, the potential use cases of this technology are not as straightforward within the life sciences and healthcare sector.
Blockchain Adoption in Life Sciences
The adoption of blockchain can create a more widely integrated ecosystem that would enable market players across various aspects of healthcare to orchestrate large amounts of data, improve the bottom line for pharmaceutical development, develop more reliable record keeping, and optimize health care delivery.
However, the prevalent adoption of the technology will rely on the inclination of both regulators and market players to navigate issues around standardized data practices. It also requires to adapt radical new levels of transparency. Moreover, blockchain is already being piloted in pharma as another security layer for medicine packages as they flow through the supply chain, on top of serialized data matrix codes, to dodge counterfeiting.
Blockchain Impact in Life Sciences
In the areas of drug development and supply chain management, the applications of blockchain could assist in reducing waste, by tracking if a temperature-sensitive drug has been transported or stored without apt refrigeration. It can also provide absolute batch records of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) in the manufacturing process and easy reporting systems for hostile events and drug batch recall.
Blockchain has a vast impact on the complex processes integrated into the design, implementation and management of clinical trials. Its records allow monitoring of an entire trial ecosystem, including patient health status, protocol deviations and more, in real-time. The use of the technology for clinical trials is perfect as it enables immutability, scalability and traceability of records with varied data access permissive levels. It is able to manage patient consent, maintain trial protocols, monitor patient samples and ensure secure communications between trial sites.
Despite these potentials of blockchain in life sciences, there are still some challenges to address in areas like patient privacy, intellectual property protection, and regulatory oversight. This means distinct attention must be given to how proposed applications for the technology will comply with data protection laws, including healthcare-specific requirements.
Several companies now are increasingly exploring the potentials of blockchain-enabled technologies within the life sciences and healthcare sectors. Thus, it remains to be seen how regulators will respond to the challenge of integration of the inherent features of blockchain with existing data protection laws. And how life sciences companies will leverage this technology in years to come.