Could block chain in Pharma drive down cost, stabalise R&D and improve patient safety
The Pharma industry is highly regulated with highly complex transactions including legal, regulatory, financial, manufacturing and commercial practices to mention a few. As a business, with so many touch points between a drugs development and it being prescribed to the consumer, it is going to be undoubtably hard to avoid errors having to rely on intermediaries at every step of the way, from government officials, to accountants, to lawyers, to medics, to pharmacists and so on, all taking time and all costing money. In theory, because block chain offers all parties involved in a business network a secure, synchronised record of transaction, and because block chain records every step involved in a transactional process from the hundreds of steps in the supply chain right through to a single online transaction, block chain appears to offer the Pharma industry an efficient solution that will ultimately drive down cost. Block chain has three key elements that gives it a place in the highly regulated world of Pharma 1. it is distributive, 2. it is permissions based and 3. it is secure. Despite improving everyday business for Pharma could block chain also affect more peripheral business concerns like the controversial parallel import of drugs from short line traders, which according to the British Association of European Pharmaceutical Distributors (BAEPD) back in 2008 accounts for 2-3% of European sales, and in the UK specifically 13% worth £9Bn (not to mention the implication on patient safety and the security of drug supply.) Despite some arguing that PTT actually saves money to the consumer, arguably PTT affects the ability for Pharma to re-invest into ongoing research with ear marked revenue. Either way the real danger is counterfeit medicines sneaking in on this import route with elaborate logistics exposed, such as fakes packaged in French, made in China and then shipped to Singapore. Bought by a wholesaler in Luxembourg sold to a Belgian wholesaler and another based in Liverpool, who in turn sold them to UK parallel importers - Because block chain is distributed as a shared form of record keeping with no one person or organisation holding ownership of the system, this prevents any unauthorised transactions at any point of the transactional cycle with complete transparentcy. Every step is recorded and linked to the next and without the correct permissions to move on to the next step the process is theoretically both tamper resistant and highly secure. Therefore in theory at least, there is no where for a drug to go other than the correct route to the correct patient which has to be a good thing right?