Can blockchain truly make a difference? Or is the novelty of the ledger technology its main selling point?
By Pasi Kemppainen
Blockchain was thrust into the spotlight as the underpinning technology behind cryptocurrency. Since then it has been positioned as a general-purpose solution for many problems that some would argue, it is not necessarily suited for.
“Blockchain is best suited for applications that have a need for complete visibility into transactional data for all participants, immutability, and non-repudiation,” explains John Hogan, Senior Vice President of Engineering, TraceLink. “In a nutshell, it is perfect for parties that don’t know or trust each other!”
There are a handful of use cases in the pharmaceutical supply chain that may be good candidates for blockchain technology. For example, the FDA is working with various partners, including UCLA Health, IBM, KPMG, Merck Sharp & Dohme, Walmart, and TraceLink on various blockchain and distributed ledger projects to support the track and trace of drugs and/or digital recalls. Some of these pilots demonstrate a novel use case for blockchain given the highly sensitive transactional data that is shared about medications making their way up and down the pharma supply chain, which helps to ensure there is a carefully tracked and encrypted record affirming every medication bottle’s integrity and pedigree.
“Given the specific benefits and costs of blockchain, it is best to carefully consider the most applicable use cases for your company’s specific business objectives before jumping on the blockchain bandwagon,” Hogan says.