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Pharmaledger Association formed to take blockchain consortium work into production


In January 2020, the Pharmaledger consortium started as a 36-month project to explore blockchain innovation in the pharmaceutical sector. As it’s about to enter its 34th month, the group wants to ensure that its work continues. Hence the 29 consortium members, including a dozen big pharma companies, have endorsed the creation of the non-profit Pharmaledger Association, which will continue its work.

The original consortium had €22 million ($21m) in backing, with part of the money coming from the EU-backed Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) and the balance from the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) under the Horizon 2020 program. 

In the future, the Pharmaledger Association will be funded by membership dues, so it’s looking to expand the number of participants. It could also generate income from companies that want its help on their own use cases.

The Swiss-based Association will take some of the consortium’s work into production and also incubate new solutions.

The consortium has explored several distributed ledger (DLT) use cases across clinical trials, supply chain and health data. Electronic Product Information (ePI) is the most advanced and will be the first to launch. 

If you buy any kind of medication, the box usually has a paper insert that carries details about the drug, such as its chemical contents, dosage, and side effects. Scanning a barcode on a package will give you the same details and also warn you if it is past its sell-by date. That functionality is a first step with the potential to add significantly more functionality.

The ePI solution uses the Quorum enterprise blockchain version of Ethereum, and other blockchain protocols are being explored.

“EFGCP has strongly supported the creation of the PharmaLedger Association to ensure that patients, physicians and other involved stakeholders can increasingly benefit from the innovation provided by this IMI project in future,” said Ingrid Klingmann, Chairman European Forum for Good Clinical Practice (EFGCP).

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, MediLedger has explored a different set of blockchain use cases.