In January 2020, a new consortium of pharma companies was added to our list. PharmaLedger is the second on our list to be convened by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), a public-private partnership funded by EU taxpayers and pharma companies. PharmaLedger consists of a who’s who of companies in the life sciences space including Novartis, Pfizer, UCB, Bayer, Janssen, Novo Nordisk, BI, Roche, GSK, AstraZeneca, Abbvie and Bambino Gesu Hospital. In total, 29 public and private entities will support the design and adoption of new blockchain-enabled healthcare solutions in the life sciences space. This could be the largest and most broad consortium effort to date.
Aside from the size and brand recognition of its members, the PharmaLedger network is notable because of its governance-first, use-case later approach. Instead of convening a network focused on a specific use case such as drug discovery, track & trace, or practitioner identity, this network is focusing on convening a network first, before enabling its members to bring their ideas forward for evaluation and prioritization. PharmaLedger’s areas of focus are clinical trials, supply chain, and data sharing.
Only one other network on our list, the Health Utility Network (HUN), has taken a similar governance-focused approach. The HUN, a consortium mainly comprised of large US health insurance companies, is working on a variety of member-driven use cases. The HUN has chosen a version of Hyperledger Fabric as its protocol.
PharmaLedger takes a more flexible stance when it comes to protocols, choosing to remain open to various technical models that fit each use case. According to Novartis’ Supply Chain Architect and PharmaLedger Industry Project Lead, Daniel Fritz, this protocol-agnostic approach provides maximum flexibility, viability, and stability from a governance perspective.
To decide on use cases, the network plans to use an evaluation approach that contemplates patient need, value, technical complexity, blockchain fit, stakeholder fit, governance complexity, and network roadmap. The network shares an underpinning contract that defines different levels of governance driven according to an existing IMI approach.