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Pharmacists are looking for DLT solution for drug costs

Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, Amgen and Sanofi are now eyeing blockchain as a means of optimizing the development and testing of new drugs.

08.Jan.18 10:31 PM
By Daria Zaytseva


Pharmacists are looking for DLT solution for drug costs

But, although it may seem strange that these tough competitors are interested in working together, according to Jaydev Thakkar, product innovation lead for digital health at Amgen, there is a growing need for cooperation on fundamental issues of great importance for the entire industry.

In recent years, pharmaceutical companies have been put under greater pressure to bring new, more personalized drugs to the market faster and at more affordable prices and individually.

But due to government regulations, the increasing complexity of conducted research and strict standards, the current process of research and development is very cumbersome: studies usually lasting from six to seven years. According to Ken Getz of the Center for the Study of Drug Development at Tufts University, about 90 percent of the drugs that enter clinical testing fail, resulting in an average cost of successful development of one drug of about $2.6 billion.

Nevertheless, Pfizer, Amgen and Sanofi believe that blockchain can help.

Ultimately, reducing the duration and cost of clinical trials and improving their success depends, in particular, on one thing: improved data management and movement.

For pharmaceuticals, limited access to the portability of patient data and their portability means that the search and recruitment of individuals who meet the eligibility criteria for this study is a difficult task.

The current hiring process involves engaging research organizations and investigators to beat the bushes, so to say, by visiting doctors' offices to find patients who are qualified and interested in participating in the study. The converse is also often true, as patients with diseases that want to participate in research often face difficulties when compared with the relevant study.

To address these gaps, a blockchain-based system could be used that allows people who want to participate in trials to combine their health data and make them visible to recruiters, according to pharmacists.

Although the data on the ledger would not be immediately connected with a particular person, recruiters could tell an anonymous candidate who has the right to participate, and once a person agrees, their identity would be revealed.

Because clinical studies usually span several years, patient retention has also become a problem for the industry, especially because whole studies can be invalidated if enough patients do not appear within the required time window.

Thus, a blockchain-based channel for interaction with the patient can offer immediate utility. Not only do managers believe that a blockchain system could automate communication between a pharmaceutical company and a patient, but they also believe that such a system would ensure the integrity of data.

The immutable nature of blockchains could play a decisive role in protecting against falsification of data and allow the public and other researchers better trust in the systems being used to track data.

Currently, the three companies are working with the IEEE Standards Association, the standards body of the world's largest technology association, developing test benches for technology implementation and solving the problem.

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