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Blockchain To Help Industrial Espionage In Big Pharma

Ann Sotnikova

Recently, the blockchain has actively broken into areas that have nothing in common, and it is being very successfully applied there. Of course, there are projects that are started with the aim of “paying tribute to the hype” but in some industries the technology is objectively necessary.

The latter are increasingly considered as medicine, and in particular pharmaceuticals. What role can the introduction of blockchain technology play here?

Perhaps the most obvious and the most important aspect of blockchain application in the pharmaceutical industry is supply chain control.

Blockchain technology lets to track each stage of the supply chain both at the level of products in general and individual medicines. The method will give the opportunity to see all the way that the drug has done before the consumer gets it. In turn, it will help to make sure that you keep a really high-quality drug in your hands, not counterfeit products. Ideally, the result would be the elimination of fraud, the reduction in the number of counterfeit drugs and the transparency of drug supply.

This idea is supposed to be realized in the following way. A bar code or QR code is placed on the drug packaging. The buyer scans it and with the help of the mobile app sees all the information about the drug: when, by whom and where it was released, how it got to the pharmacy near the house and even the results of clinical trials.

From the perspective of the average consumer, a reasonable question arises: where are the guarantees that this information is not a fake? Here comes into force an important property of the blockchain — the immutability of data. Once entered, the information can never be changed or deleted. It’s one more advantage compared to the currently used databases, where you can not only change the existing information, but also hide the fact of falsification.

Despite a number of visible advantages, there are also skeptical experts. For example, an independent blockchain developer from Japan Samuel Bourque believes that the introduction of blockchain into pharmaceuticals is not something innovative:

“Blockchain solves the problem of "trustless transactions" (i.e. no need for centralized authority or watchdog). It's not necessarily true that the industry can benefit from this paradigm. On the face of it, I think all existing challenges in the industry are addressable using standard technology. I believe that pharmaceutical companies can simply remain in control of every facet of their data and their processing to perform their operations. Probably there is no need for decentralization to avoid losing any control over their data. Speaking about the possibility of escaping from the industrial espionage, at first glance, blockchain usually makes data public, hence could help in data leakage— not its protection. Simply put: I'm not sure pharmaceutical companies can make use of blockchain technology”.

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