Three Ways Web 3.0 Will Revolutionize the Pharmaceutical Business
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Three Ways Web 3.0 Will Revolutionize the Pharmaceutical Business

Silji Abraham, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, West Pharmaceutical Services
Silji Abraham, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, West Pharmaceutical Services

Silji Abraham, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, West Pharmaceutical Services

When CIOs think about web 3.0, we envision a next-generation online world where blockchain technologies enable anyone to participate, collaborate, and exchange verifiable information and economic value without centralized intermediaries. The decentralized operating model is the key to recognizing the full potential of Web 3.0. It will allow anyone to leverage the internet’s full power and create business models and scale those without depending on banks, online platform providers, and other institutions that have disproportional power to control access to the market.

Web 3.0 promises an opportunity to realize and enforce true stakeholder capitalism. In this more inclusive capitalism, refreshing ideas can thrive and scale into business models without barriers of entry that powerful intermediaries can create.

For the pharmaceutical industry, this decentralization could improve everything from R&D to supply chain logistics to patient experiences. There’s still plenty of work to be done before any industry can fully realize the potential of Web 3.0. But by gaining an understanding now of how these new technologies can be incorporated into the pharmaceutical value chain, CIOs in the life sciences will be better prepared for the significant benefits Web 3.0 will offer the industry.

  ​The decentralized operating model is the key to recognizing the full potential of Web 3.0. 

Expanding data integrity across the industry: Right now, efforts to guarantee data integrity happen within the walls of individual companies. No verifiable information-sharing technology today enables trusted collaboration between organizations without a third-party platform attestation. In a fully realized Web 3.0 world, collaborations across any organization and individuals become possible without the fear of tampering.

Web 3.0 protocols can enable verifiable proofs related to data integrity across distributed ledgers rather than in a single place managed by one company. While storing large datasets in the blockchain still has significant constraints, solutions are evolving to make it possible to assert the integrity of off-chain data and transactions on-chain seamlessly.

To fully realize the benefits of blockchain, the industry has to develop common standards for collecting, storing, and sharing data – and for representing the integrity of data on-chain in a verifiable way. It won’t happen overnight, but it is coming, and now is the time for companies in our industry to make sure they have the right talent to leverage all the capabilities blockchains will provide.

Track-and-trace across the value chain: The holy grail of track-and-trace in the pharmaceutical industry is the ability to pinpoint the product’s attributes and relevant contextual information at every moment, from the original sourcing of raw materials to delivering therapeutics to the patients. Several track-and-trace technologies are available today, but they’re not 100% decentralized or tamper-proof.

A tamper-proof track-and-trace technology helps to keep counterfeit drugs out of distribution channels and enables a significant realization of supply chain efficiencies. Web 3.0 and IoT(Internet of Things) technologies can pave the way for end-to-end track-and-trace systems that are genuinely immutable and verifiable.

Blockchain and IoT alone won’t be enough, however. Every product and component in the supply chain will need an economically scalable “smart identity,” as well as standards and semantic layers relevant to the pharmaceutical domain.

Decentralizing clinical trials and empowering patients: The ability to recruit and facilitate the participation of patients for studies who don’t live close to clinical trial sites can accelerate finding therapies, especially for rare diseases where pharma companies struggle to find subjects or patients.

IOT-enabled wearable medical devices can enable the self-administration of novel therapies and monitoring in a Web 3.0 environment where verifiable interactions occur between patients, pharma companies, device manufacturers, healthcare providers, and regulators. The challenges in protecting proprietary information and privacy can also be handled seamlessly, leveraging the security infrastructure based on cryptography.

The benefits offered by Web 3.0 for patients and stakeholders will extend far beyond clinical trials. Web 3.0 will enable patients to truly “own” their data from various sources. The Web 3.0 learning curve and accessibility for patients and users won’t be as challenging as existing platforms and systems in healthcare. If anything, it will be easier because Web 3.0 will enable everyone to have a secure digital “wallet” that they can use to interact with anyone without a dedicated and registered used ID and password. Gone will be the days of remembering hundreds of user IDs and passwords.

At West, which manufactures drug containment systems and delivery systems, we are preparing for a Web 3.0 world with connected wearable drug delivery platforms and regulated IoT platforms to create new therapeutic experiences with guaranteed and verifiable proofs for data ownership and integrity.

For the pharmaceutical industry, my advice is this: Use the opportunity the hype cycle provides to develop a measured approach towards embracing Web 3.0 so you don’t fall behind the curve. For the patients we serve, let’s start getting ready for it now.

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