Blockchain technology is a much buzzed-about, but less understood concept that supports the infrastructure behind the cryptocurrency markets. However, the potential applications of this technology extend far beyond Bitcoin, and its promise for enhancing the security and integrity of the pharma supply chain took center stage at this year’s Channel Management Forum in a keynote presentation by UC San Diego School of Medicine Associate Professor, Dr. Tim Mackey.
With research experience that cross-cuts the disciplines of public health, health technology and innovation, supply chain, pharmaceutical policy, international relations, public policy and law, Dr. Mackey has a wide breadth of knowledge and a unique perspective on how these areas intersect through blockchain technology. In his current leadership position as a co-chair for a standards group within IEEE, a technical professional organization for the advancement of technology, he focuses on stakeholder collaboration around blockchain technology for the pharmaceutical supply chain.
Acting as a shared but immutable virtual ledger to verify product pedigree, blockchain systems can be leveraged to flag counterfeit medicines in the supply chain. And, within the broader healthcare landscape, blockchain has the potential to change the peer-review process for clinical research and to advance the development of precision medicines by organizing and sharing genomics data.
In his presentation, Dr. Mackey shared considerations to help evaluate whether blockchain is needed and the Q&A section touched on discussions with the FDA on whether blockchain might be integrated into DSCSA implementation, which isn’t likely considering the timeline. As an industry, most biopharma companies are in the pilot stages of blockchain projects, or have yet to adopt the technology at all. Among Channel Management Forum attendees, 59 percent indicated that their companies have no current plans to adopt blockchain, however 25 percent are evaluating pilot applications. Cardinal Health is pursuing opportunities to apply the benefits of blockchain to our business, in areas like supply chain management, contracts management, supplier credibility checks and suspicious order management.
Catch up on what you missed at this year’s Channel Management Forum keynote or revisit Dr. Mackey’s presentation by watching the video below.