How Decentralized Storage Networks Can Change the Game for the Pharmaceutical Industry –

How Decentralized Storage Networks Can Change the Game for the Pharmaceutical Industry –

The way pharmaceutical companies manage data has inherent risks, as exemplified by the constant data breach scandals. Is there anything that can be done about this? A potential solution can be offered by decentralized storage, which can not only improve data security, but also open opportunities for business process automation, improved data management and potentially new revenue streams.

What is decentralized storage?

Company data can be stored in one of three ways: on premises (the company’s internal computer network), in the cloud (with service providers such as Amazon AWS, Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure), or i decentralized storage (or “DS”) that uses distributed ledger technology to spread the data across a network of computers, rather than having it maintained by a single entity. DS has several potential advantages in relation to both cloud storage and local storage solutions. Some of these include:

  1. Safety: Unlike cloud providers, which are subject to centralized control and a single point of failure, DS is typically more secure than traditional centralized storage solutions, as the data is not stored in a single, vulnerable location. Instead, it is distributed across a network of computers, making it more resistant to hacking and other forms of cyber-attack.
  2. Control: With DS, users have greater control over their data, as it is not stored and managed by a third-party provider, who could potentially abuse access to the data.
  3. Cost: DS can be more cost-effective, as it does not require the use of expensive hardware and is not subject to the premiums required by traditional cloud providers.
  4. Scalability: DS is highly scalable, as the network can easily add more storage capacity by adding new nodes to the network.
  5. Availability: Since the data in DS is not tied to a specific location or device, users can access their data from anywhere, anytime.

How might this affect the pharmaceutical industry?

DS can potentially revolutionize the pharmaceutical industry by providing a secure and efficient way to store and share sensitive data and enable the use of smart contracts to automate and streamline business processes. Smart contracts are self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement between the parties directly written into code. By being distributed on a decentralized network, such as a blockchain, they can automatically enforce the terms of the agreement without the need for intermediaries. For example, ensuring that only genuine, safe and effective products reach patients, and helping to prevent counterfeiting and other forms of fraud. Track and trace was the first area application for pharma blockchain applications. But more importantly, the use of smart contracts can help streamline business processes by automating tasks and reducing the need for manual intervention, thereby saving time and resources. In terms of business transformation of the pharmaceutical industry, the areas that may see the most immediate effects are: (1) automated data compliance, (2) data sharing, and (3) data monetization.

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Automated compliance

Data management and compliance are essential to ensure that sensitive data is handled and stored securely and in accordance with relevant laws and regulations. In the context of DS networks, data governance and compliance can be automated using smart contracts, access control mechanisms and encryption. Smart contracts can automatically enforce the rules and guidelines that govern the use and storage of data – for example, automatically granting access only to authorized users, or automatically deleting data after a certain period of time. Access control mechanisms, such as end-to-end encryption in combination with decentralized encryption key management systems (DKMS), can also be used to ensure that only authorized users have access to the data.

Data sharing

DS networks and the use of smart contracts can facilitate data sharing by providing a secure and efficient way for users to share their data with others by automatically enforcing the terms of the data sharing agreements and ensuring that the data is only shared with authorized users. In addition, it can enable a decentralized, global platform for data sharing, which can allow users to share their data with others across the network, without the need for intermediaries or centralized control. This can facilitate collaboration and innovation, and drive the development of new and exciting applications and services.

Data monetization

Data monetization refers to the process of generating revenue from data. In the context of DS, it can be achieved by allowing users to sell access to their data to other users who are willing to pay for it. For example, patients can sell anonymized access to their medical records, including genetic information, personality traits and disease status to facilitate research. In addition, data monetization on a DS network can be aided by using tokens or other cryptocurrency-based systems to create a market for data, allowing users to buy and sell data using tokens or other forms of digital currency. This should result in a more efficient and flexible market for data, enabling users to easily monetize their data and access the data they need, ultimately generating new revenue streams and giving both pharma companies and individuals greater control over their data and their values.

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Challenges

Until recently, the introduction of decentralized data storage was hampered by a lack of knowledge, as well as some technological challenges, which have only recently been resolved. Some of these include:

  1. Complexity: DS can be complicated to set up and manage, especially for users unfamiliar with the underlying technology. This can make it difficult to take advantage of the benefits of the technology. Latest generation DS solutions have seen significant improvement in user experience and offer full Amazon AWS S3 compatibility, facilitating seamless migration of enterprise data.
  2. Interoperability: DS networks that are limited to a single blockchain may not be compatible with existing systems and infrastructure, making it difficult to integrate them into existing workflows and processes. New DS solutions that act as universal “headless” blockchains and parachains for data storage solve this problem.
  3. Performance: First-generation DS networks, such as IPFS, can sometimes have lower performance than traditional storage, especially in terms of read and write speeds. This can make them less suitable for applications that require high performance. New generation DS solutions, which use multi-CDN technology, have overcome this problem.
  4. Regulation: While DS is still a relatively new and emerging technology, and as such is not yet subject to the same level of regulation as traditional storage solutions, the fact is that by building data governance rules into smart contracts and therefore ensuring that data compliance is baked in by design, pharma companies can provide higher levels of compliance assurance at a lower cost.

Conclusion

Overall, the use of DS technologies can help automate and streamline the data management and compliance process, providing users with a secure and compliant way to store, manage and share sensitive data. Now the conditions for innovation in data storage in the pharmaceutical industry have been set and the first such implementations can be expected. We are aware of several teams within the pharma industry that are at various stages of exploring the technology and business adoption led by the most innovative companies should follow soon.

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About the author

Mohammad Sayadi

Mohammad Sayadi is a solution architect and CEO of Djuno, a company that develops AI technology to help businesses optimize their cloud IT infrastructure for better performance and lower costs.

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