Survey Reveals that Blockchain will be Adopted Within Five Years

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PTSM: Pharmaceutical Technology Sourcing and Management

PTSM: Pharmaceutical Technology Sourcing and Management-07-05-2017, Volume 12, Issue 7

A survey from The Pistoia Alliance found that just under a quarter (22%) of life-science companies are already using or experimenting with blockchain, but industry collaboration on security and storage standards is needed.

According to a survey of senior pharmaceutical and life-science leaders conducted by The Pistoia Alliance, there is a strong interest in blockchain, with 83% of respondents expecting blockchain to be adopted within five years. In response, The Pistoia Alliance, a global, non-profit alliance that works to lower barriers to innovation in life-sciences R&D, is calling on the pharmaceutical and technology industries to support greater collaboration around blockchain initiatives. Stakeholders have been urged to collaborate on creating industry-wide data-sharing standards during the early adoption phase as such standards will improve security and make patients more likely to share their data with companies-a move that will benefit both researchers and patients, now and in the future. 

The storage and security of personal data has become a significant issue since the boom in personal genomics, sequencing power, and ancestry services. In their quest to advance R&D and develop precision medicine and cures for rare diseases, pharmaceutical, biotech, and research organizations require access to these data. The blockchain offers a potential data housing solution, but there are hurdles to its widespread adoption. When asked, life-science leaders identified the biggest hurdle as regulatory issues (45%), followed by concerns over data privacy (26%). The potential of blockchain can only be realized if the industry works together to overcome these barriers and find a solution to safely and securely store and share sensitive data.

“Right now, blockchain is a technology originally created for use in the financial services industry, but by working together, the life-sciences industry can take advantage of its secure attributes. The Pistoia Alliance was formed to foster collaboration between the life-sciences industry and its stakeholders in other sectors. Our aim is to support our members’ blockchain initiatives and provide a forum for such partnership,” commented Steve Arlington, president of The Pistoia Alliance, in a press statement.

One possible application of the blockchain in the pharmaceutical industry is in supporting the supply chain by ensuring an auditable trail to safeguard drug provenance. According to findings from the survey, more than two thirds (68%) of pharmaceutical and life-science leaders believe that blockchain will have the greatest impact in this area.

Another application of the blockchain is in healthcare, where it can be used to store medical records, including genomic data; 60% of survey respondents believe blockchain will have a huge impact here. Genomic data is the fastest growing dataset in the world and could be stored in “blocks” on a blockchain, but standards for how it is stored and then shared securely will be essential. It is this aspect that The Pistoia Alliance sees great opportunity for collaboration.


“The dynamics of power are changing and patients today have become more empowered,” commented Nick Lynch, consultant for The Pistoia Alliance. “In the future, patients will even have the possibility of monetizing access to their personal data, giving individual companies access to ‘blocks’ of their data for research purposes. This shift-where patients have access to and control over how their data is used-is changing the entire model of healthcare from early R&D all the way to frontline delivery. Ultimately, patients will want to manage their personal data the way they manage their bank accounts. The life-sciences industry must collaboratively explore solutions that enable patients to do this, while ensuring they retain access to data for their own R&D efforts.”

The survey of 120 senior pharmaceutical and life-science leaders was conducted via webinar on June 20, 2016.

Source: The Pistoia Alliance