Pharmaceutical

Blockchain in pharma

This blog post provides a brief introduction to the concept of Blockchain, before explaining its potential for use in the pharmaceutical industry.

Accredited to Satoshi Nakamoto, a person whose identity is still a mystery, the first Blockchain was deployed in 2008. Originally intended for use in the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, Blockchain has become a groundbreaking piece of technology in its own right, with potential to transform the world of secure data storage. Blockchain is an example of software that is secure by design, meaning it is suitable for the storage and movement of sensitive data. This blog post will look at the how Blockchain could form an integral part of the pharmaceutical industry and what part Kindus wants to play in this.

To use an analogy, a Blockchain can be imagined as a shared database that is duplicated across a network of computers. Every time somebody adds a block to the chain, the database is updated across all computers. The Blockchain therefore represents a decentralised system, with every transaction available to see, and with no single database storing all this information. Due to the decentralised nature of the technology, double-spending is no longer an issue. Double-spending was always one of the fundamental concerns with digital transactions, considering the possibility of somebody duplicating their digital currency. A Blockchain ensures that any transaction made is permanent, unalterable, and easily-verifiable by the network of computers. This advantage makes it easy to see why Blockchain technology has led to the exponential growth in cryptocurrencies, but it can also have an impact in other fields such as the pharmaceutical industry.

A decentralised system also ensures that a Blockchain is much less vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Unlike a cyber-attack such as the 2016 Bangladesh Bank robbery, where cyber criminals targeted a centralised location (Bangladesh Central bank), this is not possible with Blockchain technology because the network lacks a central point of vulnerability. Instead, Blockchain uses encryption technology. The public key is a long randomly-generated string of numbers that acts as the user’s address on the Blockchain, whilst the private key is essentially the password, providing access to the user’s digital assets. The data on the Blockchain is generally considered incorruptible. Any attack on a Blockchain would require simultaneous attacks on the entire chain, something that would be almost impossible to perform.

It is not difficult to see why this technology would be attractive to pharmaceutical companies, an industry characterised by the need to protect highly sensitive data. For example, it could be used to keep track of inventory and sales of pharmaceuticals and ensure serial numbers for products are not being illicitly reproduced. This is a major concern for the industry, with the WHO estimating global fake drug sales reached $75 billion in 2010, a 90% increase over five years.[1] A Blockchain could also securely monitor confidential patient information such as medical records, and reduce the chance of new, possibly lifechanging formulas being compromised by hackers. For an industry literally dealing in matters of life and death, security is paramount.

Kindus is excited by the rapid growth of Blockchain technology. As a business at the forefront of innovation, we want to provide leading developments in this field. Together with our vast expertise in the pharmaceutical world, Kindus is the perfect partner for any pharmaceutical company looking for Blockchain solutions, no matter what stage you are at in the process. For more information on what we can offer, please visit the Blockchain section of our website.

[1] Chris Lo, ‘Blockchain in pharma: opportunities in the supply chain’, Pharmaceutical Technology (31 October 2017), https://www.pharmaceutical-technology.com/features/blockchain-pharma-opportunities-supply-chain/ [accessed 13/02/18].

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