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MIT Technology Review

Drugmakers Think Blockchains Could Improve Clinical Trials

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Three big pharmaceutical firms—Pfizer, Amgen, and Sanofi—are working together to use blockchains to speed up clinical tests of new drugs, according to CoinDesk.

The problem: Patient data that’s crucial to locating individuals for clinical trials is usually scattered across multiple proprietary systems that are often incompatible with each other. That can make it hard to recruit for trials.

How blockchains could help: A distributed ledger could allow individual patients to store data anonymously and make it visible to trial recruiters, who could then reach out to individuals who meet the eligibility criteria for a given trial. It could also streamline communication between doctors and patients during the trial.

It’s still early: Technologists are still mostly experimenting with blockchain-based medical records systems, and big technical challenges remain. The health-care industry is also heavily regulated and tends to be risk averse, which could impede adoption.