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Boehringer Ingelheim and IBM Canada to explore blockchain potential in clinical trials

Wed, 13 Feb 2019, 06:20 am UTC

Pharmaceutical giant Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) is teaming up with IBM Canada to look into the use of blockchain technology in clinical trials.

Family-owned since it was established in 1885, Boehringer Ingelheim is one of the top 20 companies in the pharmaceutical industry. In 2017, it achieved net sales of nearly 18.1 billion euros.

The existing processes involved in clinical trials and their record keeping have a number of loopholes and have ample scope for improvement. Regulatory authorities have found that the processes to ensure the quality of clinical trials are frequently inadequate, and clinical trial records are often erroneous or incomplete. This could put patient safety and interpretability of trials at risk.

Boehringer Ingelheim and IBM Canada aim to test integrating blockchain technology into clinical trials would provide a decentralized framework that enables data integrity, provenance, transparency, and patient empowerment as well as automation of processes, ultimately improving trial quality and patient safety at a reduced cost.

"The clinical trial ecosystem is highly complex as it involves different stakeholders, resulting in limited trust, transparency and process inefficiencies without true patient empowerment. Patients are at the heart of everything we do, so we are looking into novel solutions to improve patient safety and empowerment,” said Dr. Uli Brödl, Vice President, Medical and Regulatory Affairs, Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd.

This would mark the first time that blockchain technology will be explored in a clinical trial setting in Canada. IBM Canada will bring its core blockchain technologies to this project which provides patient consent, secure health data exchange and patient engagement.

"IBM is excited to collaborate with Boehringer Ingelheim to explore how blockchain technology could help improve the quality of clinical trials," said Claude Guay, General Manager, IBM Services, IBM Canada. "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."

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