Blockchain in the pharmaceutical production process: advantages and applications

Blockchain technology is a valuable ally for companies in the pharmaceutical sector that want to ensure maximum transparency in their business.

Meeting this requirement increases the possibility of establishing a relationship of deep trust with end customers, but also with other stakeholders of various kinds. Indeed, this process may involve the Ministry of Health, clinics, hospitals, universities and research centres.

The blockchain works as a register of information that makes transactions of different kinds possible. Data is disseminated through a peer-to-peer network. This transfers each block of data to all participants in the network and, once validated, it is impossible to change it without changing it throughout the network.

The relationship between technology and the pharmaceutical sector

Pharma 4.0 is a term we hear more and more these days. It refers to the typical Industry 4.0 processes that are used in the pharmaceutical sector to innovate the world of healthcare.

This information plays an important role because it allows not only better control of the supply chain, but also proactive management of it.

Thanks to blockchain technology, it is possible to obtain communications relating both to the end-to-end tracking of materials and to the various production steps.

The verification systems, standards and functioning of the supply chain of pharmaceutical companies are certified and recognised globally. However, there are still major limitations when it comes to data management and transmission.

There are still too many companies in the sector that make heavy use of paper documents and have not yet undergone a process of computerisation that is adequate to manage the immense amount of data they collect.

In addition, processes are still very slow in some structures and this is also due to a lack of capacity to innovate in a smart way in the production area.

The drug industry needs to integrate technology in a holistic way that considers all healthcare stakeholders. In this way, everyone is involved in the treatment process and can cope with the various developments in medicine.

How blockchain can promote data privacy and security

Focusing on the integrity and protection of pharmaceutical-related data, blockchain seems to be a powerful weapon to ensure secure collection of health information.

A key aspect is the compliance of the drug supply chain. In this sense, the technology can help monitor temperature during the physical crossing of the chain through systems that determine whether the storage conditions of the drug have been met (such as temperature or humidity).

In particular, counterfeiting of medicines and drugs is a very current issue that can be countered through blockchain. Indeed, distributed ledger technology ensures that all players in the supply chain, including customs authorities, are in a position to accurately validate an original product.

Also, in the field of clinical trials, the use of this strategy makes data accessible to all parties involved in research. This makes it much easier to check the reliability of the results obtained and to prevent their alteration or falsification.

Blockchain will make companies more proactive

IoT (Internet of Things) systems are set to make pharmaceutical companies increasingly “smart”. Big Data and sophisticated machine learning systems will be crucial in terms of optimising processes from upstream programmes. But that’s not all. By applying the logic of Industry 4.0 in the pharmaceutical sector, the focus will shift from the process to the target. In this way, the system will not simply follow a rigid set of predetermined and unchangeable paths, but will take into account the context in which companies operate. In this way, it will be easier to achieve optimisation of resources and the flexibility needed to respond to unforeseen events.

According to a survey conducted by the IQVIA Institute of Human Data Science, total spending on pharmaceuticals will exceed $1.5 trillion globally by 2023. For this reason, companies will need to be able to be as efficient as possible with regard to all processes. As a result, it will become much easier to withstand even higher workloads.

For example, sensors installed in processing and packaging machines to constantly monitor the stages of the production process are designed to develop a layer of distributed intelligence. With this, strategies can be devised to optimise consumption, prevent ageing and maintain the capacity of each component.

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