Sonoco ThermoSafe Develops Industrywide PharmaPortal Platform Using IBM Blockchain Technology
Sonoco ThermoSafe, a unit of Sonoco, the largest global provider of temperature assurance packaging for pharmaceutical distribution, is developing PharmaPortal™, a vendor-neutral blockchain platform for application by pharmaceutical manufacturers and carriers. Created on IBM Blockchain Transparent Supply, PharmaPortal aims to address the industry’s requirements to track assets over many different supply chain participants, enter a single version of the truth on all events generated on a package’s journey, combine this data with that of other businesses over an industry-scale network, and offer access controls to help ensure each data owner keeps control over who can access it on the network.
The openly governed blockchain network created on open source technology will originally concentrate on end-to-end traceability of temperature-controlled drugs, like vaccines, and offer an audit trail of environmental condition monitoring to protect the efficacy of these life-saving, life-extending and life-enhancing medicines. To help stimulate its development, Sonoco will invite industry leaders to collaborate on the initiative to optimize the safety and efficiency of global temperature-controlled pharmaceutical distribution.
“Only through the collaborative efforts of all members of the temperature-controlled pharmaceutical distribution process can we achieve the safety and efficiency that the world needs from us in this critical time,” said Howard Coker, president and CEO of Sonoco in a statement. “An effort of this magnitude requires a high level of industry engagement to make a meaningful difference in the lives of people around the world. IBM has had success working across a number of sectors where implementing blockchain networks transformed the efficiency and effectiveness of the supply chain, and we see the same opportunities in the pharmaceutical space.”
Notwithstanding improvements, the $230B cold chain pharmaceutical distribution market still aches from inefficiencies, causing value losses predicted at nearly $35B. These include lost product inventory, root cause investigation costs, clinical trial opportunity losses, product replacement costs, and redundant logistics. Multiple handoffs across contracted and sub-contracted handling agents across continents form a significant requirement for trusted, end-to-end visibility of pharmaceutical shipments, conditions, and documents.
“IBM offers deep expertise in blockchain to the pharmaceutical industry to help establish this transformational network led by Sonoco ThermoSafe,” said Raj Rao, general manager, Blockchain Platforms in a statement. “With Blockchain’s inherent ability to track drug provenance and create an immutable record of the lifecycle of a drug and how it was handled, this open industry initiative addresses the challenges the pharmaceutical industry faces, both in sourcing and distributing drugs.”
This neutral ecosystem will be particularly effective in promoting trust in the pharmaceutical air cargo market by allowing all parties in the supply chain to give and get relevant data in a highly secured, permissioned way. As the convener of the network, Sonoco ThermoSafe aims to create a permissioned platform for the industry, eventually building more visibility and transparency over the pharmaceutical supply chain. With network growth in the coming months, a PharmaPortal Advisory Council will be designated and comprised of a range of pharmaceutical industry representatives willing to participate in its development and adoption and help openly govern it so that the solution profits all.