Blockchain adoption in the life sciences has risen exponentially in the last one year despite the existence of significant barriers.
According to The Pistoia Alliance, a global nonprofit of life science firms, 60% of the professionals in the pharmaceutical and life science sector are either currently using blockchain technology or at least experimenting with it. This compares to a figure of 22% recorded when a similar survey was conducted in the sector last year by the nonprofit.
For the remaining 40% who have no plans of implementing blockchain, there were various barriers cited. Among 55% of the respondents, the lack of skilled blockchain personnel was the reason given for the ambivalence shown towards blockchain technology.
The survey also revealed that another 16% of the respondents viewed blockchain technology as being too difficult to understand and this was also serving as a barrier to adoption. But despite the perception that blockchain was a complex technology, awareness regarding the capabilities of the technology was increasing.
Per the survey, 73% of the professionals in the pharmaceutical and life science sector are of the view that the immutability of data is the greatest benefit of blockchain technology. Another 39% held the opinion that the transparency offered by distributed ledger systems is the best feature of blockchain. Close to 20% of the respondents were, however, of the view that the distributed ledger technology offered no benefit that couldn’t be accrued from using a traditional database.
“However, almost one fifth (18 percent) 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 wrote in a statement.
According to Steve Arlington, the president of The Pistoia Alliance – which boasts of founding members that include global pharmaceutical giants such as Pfizer, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca – the benefits of blockchain technology to the pharmaceutical and life sciences industry cannot be ignored.
“Blockchain provides an additional layer of trust for scientists and their organizations. 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,” Arlington said. “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 which was conducted on senior professionals in the sector last month also revealed that 30% of the respondents are of the view that the medical supply chain is the one area which stands to benefit the greatest from adopting blockchain technology. About 25% of the respondents, on the other hand, cited electronic medical records while 20% said clinical trials management. For 15% of the respondents, scientific data sharing stands to gain the most from blockchain technology.