Special edition: An interview with Novartis' Dan Fritz on PharmaLedger

Dan Fritz answered some of the questions I had about PharmaLedger.

Hi everyone, welcome to a special edition of my newsletter where Dan Fritz, Supply Chain Architect at Novartis and PharmaLedger Industry Project Lead, has answered some of the questions I had about PharmaLedger. For an introduction to PharmaLedger please see this past Sunday’s issue New pharma focused business network: PharmaLedger or the PharmaLedger press release. I tried to ask questions that weren’t answerable with the press release alone.

I am very interested in feedback on this format and whether it is valuable to my readers. If it is valuable I will try to do more of these in the future.

RM denotes my questions, and DF Dan’s answers. The bolding within quotes is mine, not Dan’s.

RM: What is your process for prioritizing use cases?

DF: The main purpose is to establish a blockchain platform for the healthcare industry so that we have a platform for all potential use cases….. For the use cases there is an evaluation approach that is looking at patient need, value, technical complexity, if blockchain is the right technology, roadmap fit, stakeholder complexity, etc.

The use cases are processed into a short list and then defined in more detail before being prioritized sometime mid-year.  In terms of the actual formal decision, there is a consortium agreement (underpinning contract) that defines governance at different levels. This is a standard approach used for all the IMI projects so we are able to benefit from this existing governance approach.  

RM: What blockchain protocol(s) do you plan on using?  

DF: No protocols as of yet.  The initial focus is use case evaluation and prioritization. We will select the protocols after the use cases are selected.

RM: Does your choice of technical model vary by use case / design pattern?  

DF: Yes, most likely.  We can imagine a number of different distributed ledger technologies, even that they are upgraded or replaced over time, but the overall framework should enable this kind of flexibility and remain sustainable from a governance perspective.

RM: What is the first use case we will see and when? 

DF: This of course depends on the technical/organizational complexity, but the project is committed to an agile approach.  We are also hoping to leverage the work already done in the industry in order to accelerate delivery.  The complexity involved in such process changes is humongous…and we will have to manage that.

RM: How is PharmaLedger thinking about engaging other stakeholders not represented in the consortium today?

DF: Depending on the use cases, we know that the project and our companies will have to engage different stakeholders.  So we want to start this process as early as possible, as it also has an impact on the feasibility of different use case realization.  There are different ways to engage – simply as a interested party with common interests, on the advisory board, in the “Partnership in Research” program or as a subcontractor.

RM: How are you integrating the work partners have done outside of IMI?

DF: This is a great accelerator for the project!  The partners have learnings and solutions from previous work and this can all be leveraged.  There is a continuous sharing of the work done and we hope to build on the results from the partners.

RM: Does this initiative have any relationship to the MELLODDY project?  

DF: We have been in contact with MELLODDY and Trials@home and will continue to align with them. We will engage with other IMI projects such as MyHealthMyData, and Harmony.

RM: Is this just in the EU or does it extend to the US?  

DF: It is EU but all industry participants are global players, and the supply chains for one are global in nature, so ideally the solutions could scale to other geographies.

RM: Novartis has taken a prominent role within PharmaLedger. Why is your organization prioritizing this initiative?  

DF: Novartis has 5 key strategic objectives which include going big on Data and Digital, focusing on Innovation, striving for Operational Excellence, creating a new culture and returning more to society.  We believe that we will find ways that blockchain can contribute to all those objectives.

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