The desire to complete studies faster and accelerate the introduction of new drugs as much as possible is not new to life scientists. Pharmaceutical companies and their development partners are constantly looking for ways to increase the speed and efficiency of their work – and the recent pandemic has increased that pressure.
Rama Rao (RR), CEO of Bloqcube, spoke to Outsourcing-Pharma (OSP) about how blocktain technology can be used to accelerate clinical trials and bring pharmaceutical products to market faster.
OSP: Could you please share an “elevator description” of blockchain technology and how it has been used to help pharmaceutical and clinical study professionals?.
RR: Blockchain technology is a secure way to have a single source of data shared across multiple locations in a ledger or trade repository, and to record transactions instantly to provide a trusted and immutable record. This is done using cryptography that ensures that facts are consistently reported to those who need to access them quickly and transparently
It is relatively new in terms of application in the pharmaceutical industry and has been used primarily for “tracking and tracing” drugs through the supply chain. Such a digital identity would not only meet the legal requirements, but also make it possible to distinguish between counterfeits and original drugs
We are among the pioneers using it for clinical studies. Currently, some companies are using it to ensure the quality of scientific research, others are using it to ensure patient records are well managed.
OSP: Tell us about Bloqcube – who you are, what you do, how you started and what makes your company stand out from the crowd..
Rama Rao, CEO of Bloqcube
RR: Bloqcube is a three year old startup that developed its solution not from the perspective of a technologist but from the perspective of domain experts by first identifying the weak points in the operational processes of clinical studies and then applying specific solutions. We use an Ipad to facilitate access and decentralization, a cloud-based structure so that we are not anchored to a site / web and the blockchain engine as the platform that forms the basis for governance and efficient processes.
We stand out from our competitors in four ways:
- The data is available in real time on a uniform platform and offers comprehensive transparency
- The data flows into a finance module C2TA, which verifies the payment from the sponsor, pays with a peer-to-peer payment system, sends an accounting record to a system such as SAP, and then brings the data back for planning comparisons.
- The blockchain engine provides a basis for several functions
- It is a completely decentralized system that can bring the studies to the patient level.
It is a system recognized for its ingenuity in developing a next generation software solution. The Gartner Group listed it in their Hype Cycle Report for Life Sciences and Blockchains for 2019 and 2020. Because of my burning passion, we began to find ways to accelerate clinical trials and deliver drugs to patients faster
OSP: You have an impressive background with almost three decades of experience in high-profile companies like Novartis and Lilly. Could you please tell us how your work and experience with these companies helped create Bloqcube?.
RR: Among the various leadership roles at Lilly and Novartis, two roles emerged at Novartis when I was Head of Global Development Finance for Novartis Oncology and Clinical Development and Medical Affairs for the US. I’ve been able to visit clinical trial sites and see firsthand some of the tactical and operational challenges our partners face when conducting trials, and that’s stuck with me.
As an engineer familiar with Moore’s Law, I have often wondered if there is a way to incorporate this into the operational processes of clinical trials. Some of these experiences were an integral part of my search for a suitable solution
OSP: How does the Bloqcube software system use the blockchain to speed up experiments?.
RR: Data collected as part of the case report forms is stored in blocks of the blockchain. When a transaction is complete, it is stored in the block, creating an immutable seal on successive blocks of data. In addition, we have developed a proprietary algorithm that runs the blockchain to integrate our financial processes
Because we have real-time data and data that is integrated at different levels or in different locations, you don’t have to re-enter the data into multiple systems or reference multiple systems to understand which data is correct.
OSP: Can you please give us some reasons why speeding up studies is a priority for pharmaceutical companies?.
RR: The basic factor is that we need to get drugs to patients faster. This was underscored by the COVID-19 pandemic in finding the right vaccine to protect. On a financial level, a late day can cost up to $ 8 million, according to some studies.
There is more competition now commercially and it is possible that in the vaccine race some large well-known companies were unable to get their vaccine out on time. The combination of humanitarian needs with competitive pressures and rising costs are some of the reasons
OSP: What are some of the main barriers to achieving optimal test speeds? How do technologies like yours help overcome these barriers?.
RR: The fact that there are multiple systems that are not uniform is one factor. Another reason is that, according to a study by a leading software company, there is a high level of customer dissatisfaction with existing systems and ultimately too many intermediaries are involved in these processes, which make it difficult to build a unified whole.
OSP: Do you have anecdotes about a customer using your technology for their operation that you could share?.
RR: This is confidential at this point, but you used our system in an observational diabetes study conducted in 150 homes in rural India with striking results
OSP: Where do you see blockchain in the coming months and years?.
RR: The role of the blockchain will improve and increase when people realize that it is wrong to link it to Bitcoin. There are several areas of growth in digital asset creation and / or in building payment mechanisms for central bank digital currencies.