In today’s technologically advanced world, there always seems to be some sort of new, innovative technology that promises to change the world as we know it. From the internet of things to cloud computing and everything in between, these inventions and ideas are changing industries by improving efficiencies, reducing costs, and streamlining operations. One of the newest technologies currently making waves is digital ledger technology (DLT), also called blockchain, which some pharmaceutical professionals believe could have a huge impact on regulatory affairs.
Keep reading to learn more about blockchain technology and how it could be used in pharma.
Blockchain Technology Explained for Students in Drug Regulatory Affairs Training
Blockchain was originally brought into the spotlight by Bitcoin, an open source peer-to-peer cryptocurrency. That’s because Bitcoin uses blockchain to keep the cryptocurrency secure. Simply put, a blockchain is a ledger of information that is continuously updated and added onto. Each grouping of data added onto the blockchain is called a block, and as the blockchain passes from one user to another, new blocks of data are added onto the blockchain.
Students in drug regulatory affairs courses should know that there’s no central location where the data is stored. Instead, it’s continually updated and hosted by all the computers that have permission to access it. This is part of what makes blockchain incredibly safe and nearly impossible to corrupt; as the blocks continue to build onto the blockchain, it becomes basically impossible to go back and change information.
How Blockchain Technology Can Be Used in Pharmaceutical Regulatory Affairs
Professionals with drug regulatory affairs training have been quick to recognize blockchain’s possible usefulness in the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries. According to a survey by The Pistoia Alliance, 83 per cent of surveyed executives working in the life sciences believe blockchain technology could be adopted in the pharma industry within the next five years. In fact, some even believe it could solve a great number of supply chain issues the industry faces by creating more transparency. With the help of blockchain technology, they claim, professionals would be able to know the exact path each drug takes from production and distribution right up to purchase.
The decentralized nature of blockchain technology would allow all players in the pharmaceutical supply chain to update data about the whereabouts and condition of pharmaceuticals as they move through the supply chain. This data would be accessible to whoever may need it, whether they are a patient or regulatory affairs professional.
Challenges with Blockchain That Students in Drug Regulatory Affairs Should Be Aware Of
In order for blockchain to function as intended, multiple partners throughout the supply chain would need to employ the technology. Not only would it be quite the feat convincing pharma and life science companies to adopt blockchain for their data tracking, but there are also additional concerns about privacy to take into account. Intimate data about company operations could become available to anyone with access to the blockchain, which could include possible competitors. Keeping important company information private would be an important concern for many pharma companies.
In addition, if the blockchain was to track pharmaceuticals’ movements from production to purchase, the ethics of having a patient’s data available would also be a cause for concern. Whether these important points can be addressed by new technological advancements remains to be seen, and could play an important role in how or whether blockchain is used by the pharmaceutical industry.
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