Over half of life science firms already experimenting with blockchain

New collaboration to integrate blockchain into clinical trials
Credit: Shutterstock.com/ whiteMocca

More than half of pharmaceutical and life science professionals are either using or experimenting with blockchain today, according to a survey from The Pistoia Alliance.

This compares with 22% when asked in 2017. However, 40% of those surveyed are not currently looking at implementing or have no plans to implement blockchain.

The biggest barriers identified to adoption are access to skilled blockchain personnel (55%), and that blockchain is too difficult to understand (16%).

These factors underline why The Pistoia Alliance is calling for the life science and pharmaceutical industries to collaborate over the development and implementation of blockchain.

“We must ensure that the life science industry has access to the right skills and staff to bring their blockchain projects to fruition, particularly looking to the technology industry to fill the blockchain talent gap,” said Steve Arlington, President of The Pistoia Alliance.

“This knowledge will be particularly useful for the 18% of life science professionals who admitted to knowing nothing about blockchain. The potential to enhance collaboration and, therefore, innovation is huge.

“Blockchain provides an additional layer of trust for scientists and their organisations. We hope the security benefits of the technology help to lessen reticence over sharing and transferring data or information and will facilitate further cross-industry collaboration and knowledge sharing.

“We believe blockchain will open up new opportunities for the industry to begin sharing data more securely to advance drug discovery, ultimately making patients’ lives better.”

The survey also showed life science and pharma professionals are becoming more aware of the capabilities of blockchain.

Respondents believed the greatest opportunities for using blockchain lie in the medical supply chain (30%), electronic medical records (25%), clinical trials management (20%), and scientific data sharing (15%).

Of the benefits of blockchain, life science and pharmaceutical professionals believe the most significant is the immutability of data (73%).

Significantly, for an industry with tight regulations, 39% also believe the transparency of the blockchain system is its best feature. However, almost one fifth of professionals believe using blockchain adds no value beyond a traditional database, showing there is some reluctance in the industry to use the technology.

The Pistoia Alliance believes that some of the misconceptions about blockchain can be overcome with greater education of those in industry.