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Blockchain Leadership Summit: How To Fight Pharma Counterfeit

The investments into the blockchain technology in the healthcare industry are growing rapidly, reaching $200M according to the recent report of the major consortium R3. New blockchain developments appear weekly in different sectors: logistics, healthcare, music, and even art.

The most important use-cases of blockchain in healthcare and pharma

The blockchain application in the healthcare industry, while still at the early stage of development, presents various opportunities: continuing keeping track of patients’ health, new insights on population health; and supports the direction toward value-based care.

Prescrypt, a proof-of-concept developed by Deloitte Netherlands, in collaboration with SNS Bank and Radboud3, gives patients total ownership of their medical records, allowing them to grant and revoke provider access to their data.

There are already several use-cases in the pharma industry as well: blockchain can help with verifying the authenticity of returned drugs and compliance in the pharma supply chain. Merck in partnership with SAP has developed the SAP Pharma Blockchain POC app for the use-case. Blockchain protocols in clinical trials can provide transparency and traceability of consent.

Fighting the counterfeit drugs with blockchain

Another groundbreaking use-case in pharma is the prevention of counterfeit drugs and medical devices. And Novartis AG, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world based in Basel, Switzerland, has made a tremendous progress in this one. They have been experimenting with blockchain since 2016 and have run various proofs of concept (PoCs). Today, their primary tech development is aimed to identify counterfeit medicines and track temperature with real-time visibility for all participants in the supply chain, using Blockchain and IoT.

The initiative is led by Daniel Fritz, the Novartis’ Domain Architect Supply Chain, and Marco Cuomo, Novartis’ Applied Technology Innovation Manager. They are also working on a public-private partnership between the European pharmaceutical industry and the EU - the IMI Blockchain Enabled Healthcare program. The program aims to partner the pharma industry with a consortium made up of SME blockchain companies, universities, clinical labs, hospitals, patient representatives, and others. It’s a wide-ranging project that includes counterfeit drug detection, supply chain, patient data, and clinical trials.

What is holding other companies back from trying?

The current state of healthcare and pharma records is incoherent and irrational due to a lack of common architectures and standards that would allow the safe transfer of sensitive information among stakeholders in the system. Blockchain’s ability to establish provenance and transparency of data makes it especially suited for this industry.

Several issues can block organizations in their attempts:

  • When should organizations launch blockchain pilots?

  • How should they design the use cases?

  • When should they strengthen the system through smart contracts?

  • Should they implement permissioned, permissionless, or consortium blockchains?

To answer these questions and to talk about their experience in Novartis, Daniel Fritz and Marco Cuomo will be speaking on Blockchain Leadership Summit in Basel. Their keynote speech is highly anticipated by industry players, as it will shed light upon possible pitfalls of the blockchain application and steps to be taken when launching a blockchain pilot.

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