Boehringer Ingelheim and IBM bring blockchain to clinical trials

By Maggie Lynch

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/	ismagilov)
(Image: Getty/ ismagilov)

Related tags: Blockchain, Clinical trials, Boehringer ingelheim, Clinical research, Clinical trial management, Logistics, Technology

Boehringer Ingelheim and IBM Canada are using blockchain technology for the first time in a clinical trial setting to test the technology’s trial management capabilities.

“We recognized that the current processes to ensure the quality of clinical trials are frequently inadequate and clinical trial records are often erroneous or incomplete, putting patient safety at risk,” ​Uli Brödl, VP, medical and regulatory affairs, Boehringer Ingelheim told us

“IBM Canada brings core blockchain technologies to this collaboration which provides patient consent, secure health data exchange, and patient engagement. Blockchain technology offers the opportunity to increase trust and transparency among stakeholders during clinical trial process, especially when it comes to data and consent management for patients,”​ Brödl added.

Financial terms of this agreement have not been disclosed, though further details of the trial, including the number of participants, and trial design will be shared later this year.

"We've been using blockchain in other industries, and we are now investigating how we can use this technology to give Canadian patients the same level of security and trust when it comes to their personal health information,”​ said Claude Guay, general manager, IBM Services, IBM Canada in a statement.

The use of blockchain in clinical trials is also expected to improve the “validity or reputation of the trial due to improved recruitment, retention, speed, and quality of the trial,”​ Brödl added.

Blockchain’s real-time visibility

When using blockchain technology, data cannot be deleted and all changes are tracked.

Health care analyst Caron Dhillon from Results Healthcare previously told us, “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 engagement strategies.”

According to a recent report​, 60% of industry executives are planning to implement blockchain solutions in the coming years, and while the still in the early stages of implementation, several companies have begun using the technology.

Among those using blockchain is Scientist.com, an online marketplace for clinical development needs, which added a blockchain​ technology offering, DataSmart, to protect data throughout the drug development process.

Alpha Genesis​ also is exploring the use of blockchain technology in its primate research activities to boost transparency and traceability.

Additionally, Certara is using blockchain​ to expand its research in transparency and disclosure. The company’s regulatory sciences division, Synchrogenix, collaborated with Hedera Hashgraph in order to develop a platform that offers a public ledger that enables develops to build decentralized applications.

A report by BIS Research​ estimated that blockchain use in health care is estimated to grow to more than $5.16bn by the end of 2025. 

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