Large pharmaceutical companies seek solutions to drug discovery and development costs based on distributed ledger technology

nRunaway commentary: Pharmaceutical giants such as Shui-Hui Pharmaceutical, Amgen and Sanofi as fierce competitors in the industry, but because of blockchain technology and began to cooperate. The company believes that the major basic topics of contemporary industry cooperation momentum is growing. In particular, the investment in the clinical trial stage is too high, the test success rate and cost recovery rate are too low. The use of blockchain technology can guarantee the success rate of experiments from the source, improve the match rate of test participants, and increase the efficiency of test object search. And this cooperation has been the world’s largest standards body IEEE Standards Association’s support.n
nTranslation: Annie_Xun
What if blockchain can save lives?n
That’s exactly what pharmaceutical giants Pfizer, Amgen and Sanofi (Sanofi) think about. The three companies that often have “black boxes” in their work now see the blockchain as a streamlined way for new drug discovery and testing processes. In an exclusive interview, several company representatives explained how they would work together to develop a blockchain framework to address the current stalemate in the clinical trial process.n
But despite the seemingly weird co-operation between these fierce competitors, Jaydev Thakkar, Amgen’s director of digital medical product innovation, said that cooperation in major industry fundamentals is having more and more momentum.n
n”The focus is on helping each other optimize the operation of the clinical research engine.”n
nIn recent years, the pressure on pharmaceutical companies has risen sharply. The market needs new drugs that are faster, cheaper and more customized.n
However, due to government regulation, the complexity of research is increasing and the standards are harsh. The current R u0026 D process is very complicated, and the research usually lasted for six or seven years. Ken Getz of the Center for the Study of Drug Development at Tufts University said about 90% of the drugs that went into clinical testing failed. The cost of successfully developing a single drug category is about 2.6 billion U.S. dollars.n
n”The chances of reclaiming the 2.6 billion U.S. dollars now are much lower than five years ago.”n
nHowever Pfizer, Amgen and Sanofi believe the blockchain can help them.n
Munther Baara, senior director of enterprise technology development at Pfizer, said, “It’s about execution and business model, about cooperation.”n
Everything around the datan
Ultimately reducing the cost and time-consuming clinical trial, to improve the success rate, depends on one thing: the improvement of data management and circulation.n
In this regard, the pharmaceutical industry shares the same problems facing the entire U.S. healthcare system as the isolation of most data stores, as well as limited interoperability and transferability.n
Baara said, “The common problem facing the pharmaceutical industry is the fact that data is fragmented, and if you look at five different doctors, you end up storing the data in five different systems.”n
Access to patient data and limited portability in the pharmaceutical industry means that it can be challenging to find an acceptable participant in an experiment.n
Existing trial recruitment processes require specialized research institutes and investigators for screening, which means visiting individual physician offices on a case-by-case basis to find patients who are eligible for research participation and who are interested. Vice versa, patients who want to participate in the study often do not match the type of disease that one study needs.n
He pointed out that in order to fill the void, blockchain-based systems allow individuals wishing to participate in the trial to make statistics on their own health data and make them available to trial recruitment agencies.n
Although technology in the ledger may not immediately be associated with a particular identity, the recruiting agency can push anonymous qualified candidates and their identities can be made public once the individual has agreed.n
Baara said:n
n”The beauty of the blockchain lies in the individual’s mastery of control.”n
Problem reviewn
However, it is also a question of how to keep participants closer.n
Because clinical studies often span years, it is also a problem in this industry to retain patients, especially if the patient does not appear within the time frame, which could lead to the cancellation of the entire study.n
Therefore blockchain-based patient interaction channel can provide timely help.n
Dany DeGrave, Sanofi’s senior director of innovation projects and external networks, said:n
n”Now that the medical staff performing the clinical trial also need to turn to the phone or email to remind the patient’s appointment, which is especially detrimental to the industry, we predict that in the future automation will make the whole process more efficient.”n
nHe not only thinks blockchain systems can automate the communications between the pharmaceutical company and the patient, but also consider the system to be data authentic. The latter is especially important because regulators’ approval of new drugs depends on the accuracy of the data, and news of counterfeiting research results over the years has swayed the public’s trust in the pharmaceutical industry.n
According to DeGrave, the unmodifiable nature of blockchain technology can play an important role in countering data fraud, giving the public and other researchers greater trust in the system of tracking data.n
The three companies now work with the IEEE Standards Association, the world’s largest technology association standards body to develop technology implementation testbenches and address existing challenges.n
Regulators are also beginning to pay attention to this concept. Representatives from the U.S. pharmaceutical regulatory agency, the Food and Drug Administration, will share their thoughts at an industry symposium in February.n
Correct guidancen
But with the exploration of many sectors in the blockchain arena, it is not as simple as imagined to find honeypots looking for technology implementations.n
In the context of the health care industry, Epic and Cerner, for example, are traditionally eclipsed by traditional e-medical record providers, displeasing blockchain startups in the sector.n
“We needed to overcome any impediments to the health-care data movement to the blockchain and give the right incentives for existing industry players to quickly and completely realize the potential we see from this new technology,” DeGrave said.n
However, Pfizer’s Baara believes consumer trends that call for the control of personal medical records will over time spur existing data-hosting agencies to loosen their stranglehold.n
However, the costs associated with innovation in this area, as well as the hedging characteristics of highly regulated sectors, also mean that everything must be steady from the outset.n
n”Like any other industry, we need to ensure that technology is mature enough to make a massive change and minimize any potential disruption.”n
nn”The cost of change in your industry is huge, so we’d better get it right early.”n

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