Pharma Giant Tests IBM Blockchain in Bid to Improve Clinical Trials

Pharma giant Boehringer Ingelheim is set to trial IBM blockchain in Canada to raise the quality of processes and records in clinical trials.

AccessTimeIconFeb 13, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. UTC
Updated Dec 12, 2022 at 12:42 p.m. UTC

A Germany-based pharmaceutical multinational's Canadian arm is set to trial IBM blockchain in Canada in a bid to raise the quality of clinical trials.

Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) announced Tuesday that it has partnered with IBM “to improve trust, transparency, patient safety and patient empowerment in clinical trials” using the tech giant's blockchain platform.

The firm said the trial aims to address quality issues with clinical trial processes and records, which are currently “often erroneous or incomplete” and could potentially put patient safety at risk.

The project will test how blockchain can help provide a decentralized framework that preserves the integrity of data, provides "provenance and transparency," and enables the automation of processes, ultimately boosting patient safety and reducing costs.

“The clinical trial ecosystem is highly complex as it involves different stakeholders, resulting in limited trust, transparency and process inefficiencies without true patient empowerment,” said Dr. Uli Brödl, vice president for medical and regulatory affairs at Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada).

IBM Canada’s general manager for services, Claude Guay, said:

“We’ve been using blockchain in other industries, and we are now investigating how we can use this technology to give Canadian patients the same level of security and trust when it comes to their personal health information.”

Other major pharmaceutical firms have also been exploring the potential benefits of integrating blockchain tech. In January 2018, Pfizer, Amgen and Sanofi were eyeing blockchain as a way of streamlining the process of developing and testing new drugs.

Last June, Merck was seeking a patent for a way to use blockchain in order to track goods as they move through the supply chain and tackle the issue of counterfeit meds. Indian government think tank NITI Aayog was also working on a blockchain solution aimed to combat the country’s roaring counterfeit drugs trade last April.

Test tubes in medical lab image via Shutterstock 


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