In an effort to improve transparency in clinical trial research, two doctors created a system that coverts trial documents into a Bitcoin – an online equivalent of cash.
The new approach, which prevents clinical trial documents from being altered to make new medications look more effective, was developed by Greg Irving, of the University of Cambridge, and John Holden – both practicing doctors concerned about the trustworthiness of clinical trials.
“Outcome switching, data dredging and selective publication are some of the problems that undermine the integrity of published research,” Irving told Outsourcing-Pharma. “Yet, despite the creation of numerous trial registries, problems such as differences between pre-specified and reported outcomes persist.”
To address these concerns, Irvin and Holden applied Bitcoin’s block chain technology to clinical trial reports. A blockchain, which was invented in 2008 to create Bitcoin, is a decentralized database of bitcoin transactions, in which every transaction is publically recorded, timestamped, and stored across a computer network, thus creating a distributed ledger.
“We were aware of reports how distributed ledger technology could provide new tools to reduce fraud, error and the cost of paper intensive processes in other industries and thought it would be interesting to apply this to clinical science,” explained Irving.