You might soon be able to add “preventing death from snake bites” to the list of things the blockchain can do.
BTG, a British specialty pharma company, has tapped OMNY to pilot a distributed ledger-based platform to help track the supply of CroFab, the company’s antivenom.
“We have the only antivenom for management of all North American pit viper envenomations,” Amanda Goltz, VP of digital at BTG, told MobiHealthNews at a meeting last week during JP Morgan in San Francisco. “That’s a set of species that includes the rattlesnake and the copperhead. You don’t always know what snake bit you. Certainly the people at the hospital don’t know. So it’s helpful to have one antivenom that covers a lot of different snakes. … CroFab has been on the market 18 years and we’ve treated over 50,000 patients with it.”
Why it matters
When a person gets bitten by snake, they need antivenom and they need it as quickly as possible. BTG already has a digital system in place for helping EMTs to know what hospitals stock CroFab, but the information is limited.
“It’ll tell you where we stock the drug. It doesn’t tell you the number of vials in real time,” Goltz said. “I might have such a bad bite that I need multiple vials. So it doesn’t do that much good to take me to a hospital that has maybe stock, but not enough stock. We actually have this issue like most pharma companies do that do specialty drugs in hospitals, that we don’t have a lot of insight into the hospital pharmacy. We know how much we sold them. We don’t know how much they still have left or how much they’re stocking, that kind of stuff.”
Through the partnership, OMNY’s technology will track the location of all vials of CroFab in real time. At first, that information will be shared with BTG and with the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center. But the goal in the near future is to incorporate it into BTG’s Snakebite 911 app, making the information available to doctors and EMTs.
Beyond that, the pilot could serve as a model for pharma companies and hospitals to use blockchain to increase their understanding of the supply chain of other drugs.
“CroFab is a particular thing limited to the amount of snake bites we have, but if you think about a drug that might be for multiple uses, for example, you don’t have any data on how stocking happens or how it’s being used,” Goltz said. “And all those things could suddenly become visible and transparent to the manufacturer, and more importantly to whatever parts of the hospital want understanding of that. So you could say ‘Is my specialty pharmacy efficient?’ ‘What is the time between when the doctor orders and when they get the drug and the vial set up?’ And all of these are really interesting questions that can be answered by this technology.”
What’s the trend
BTG has been embracing digital health for a while with CroFab, most motably with the launch of the Snakebite 911 app suite (which includes apps for patients, EMTs, and doctors) in 2016. The company advertised the existence of the patient app through efforts which included REI, the National Park Service, and the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America. To date, they’ve seen 15,000 downloads, according to Goltz.
On the record
"As an Emergency Medicine physician, I've experienced first-hand how difficult it is to provide patient care without access to the treatment," Dr. Mitesh Rao, CEO of OMNY, said in a statement. "Our platform's ability to quickly and securely share data and ensure its provenance for all involved, can ensure hospitals are adequately stocked, and poison control centers like RMPDC can help coordinate care for hospitals and first responders."