Blockchain could solve many challenges facing the clinical trials process: Analyst

By Melissa Fassbender contact

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/ivanmollov)
(Image: Getty/ivanmollov)

Related tags: Blockchain, Clinical trials, PCT Europe, CRO, CMO, Supply chain

Blockchain provides real-time visibility into the entire clinical trial supply chain and has the potential to solve several of the industry’s biggest challenges.

Once entered into a blockchain, data cannot be deleted and all changes are tracked. This accountability provides value across the supply chain, including drug safety, patient safety, and clinical trials management – and has grabbed the attention of several industry stakeholders.

“Blockchain technology has the potential to help solve many challenges facing the clinical trials process, such as accurately reproducing and sharing data, privacy concerns, and patient enrollment strategies,”​ said Caron Dhillon, health care analyst at Results Healthcare.

“Perhaps most importantly, through its ability to track events in chronological order and with full transparency, blockchain allows for high level of data authenticity throughout the whole document flow in a clinical trial, ensuring trust of the data and its integrity,”​ she told us.

Through smart contracts, blockchain could also improve communication between doctors and patients during the clinical trial, which Dhillon said would promote transparency and traceability throughout the process.

The technology also could help solve perhaps one of the industry’s biggest challenges: patient enrollment. “A majority of patients have no idea that these clinical trials are even in operation, or that they could benefit from the treatments on offer,”​ said Dhillon.

With blockchain, companies could improve the quality and quantity of patients available to participate.

“In theory, patients could store medical data anonymously in individual transactions on the blockchain, visible only to trial recruiters, who could then reach out to patients if their data qualifies for the trial – this being incredibly beneficial to both the scientists conducting the trial and patients who are struggling to find viable treatment options,” ​she explained.

However, the implementation of blockchain is still in the very early phases within the pharmaceutical industry, Dhillon said.

How does blockchain work?
(Image: Getty/elenabs)

While more than 60% of executives are planning to implement a blockchain solution in the coming years, “the exact process of how this can be done is still widely under discussion,”​ she explained.

As for contract research and manufacturing organizations, Dhillon noted that it is still in such early stages of implementation that these players have not yet made any major acquisitions in the space.

Other technology companies and service providers, such as Certara​, Alpha Genesis​, and Scientist.com​, have applied blockchain technology in various aspects of their companies.

According to Results Healthcare, the blockchain market could soon see M&A activity, as private equity firms have shown interest​ in the laboratory automation market and cloud-based solutions.

A recent report by BIS Research​ estimates that blockchain in health care is estimated to grow to more than $5.61bn by the end of 2025 – and this growth has prompted venture capital firms and investors to “place their bets​.”

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