Richie Etwaru is founder and CEO of Hu-manity, whose vision is to empower people to take ownership of their inherent human data.


The pharmaceutical industry has never seen the full end-to-end benefits of a world where explicitly consented data is available. And this can happen without disruption. Everyone can indeed win.

Every company that sells a product has a supply chain. Without a robust supply chain, it’s impossible to compete in the marketplace. Supply chain integrity is important too – you have to know the source of everything that goes into your final product.

Consider a coffee company that buys coffee beans from growers in Costa Rica and other nations. Big coffee companies are scrupulous about sourcing their beans. They want to know exactly where the beans come from, right down to the plantation, the soil, and the climate. This is because they want their end product—the steaming cup held by the customer in a New York coffee shop or in the little town of Centerville—to have integrity and to be exactly what the company says it is.

Increasingly, it matters to coffee companies—and other processors of imported raw materials—to know the conditions under which their beans were grown and harvested. Sustainability and fair trade have become buzzwords in which consumers are keenly interested.

For example, McDonald’s USA recently began sourcing 100 percent of its espresso beans from farms certified by the Rainforest Alliance, a growing network of farmers, foresters, communities, scientists, governments, environmentalists, and businesses dedicated to conserving biodiversity and ensuring sustainable livelihoods. Starbucks, in partnership with Conservation International, is committed to buying 100 percent ethically sourced coffee.

Blockchain technology is an increasingly important tool in the sourcing of raw materials. Denver’s Coda Coffee Co. now offers what it calls “the world’s first blockchain-traced coffee,” giving customers access to a cloud-based ledger that tracks every stop along their coffee’s supply chain. Agriculture conglomerate Cargill Inc. is testing a blockchain technology that would allow consumers and supermarket managers to trace turkeys to the farm that raised them. 

This technology gives the product greater legitimacy because the consumer—whether an individual or a business—can now trace the origins of the material back to its source. We are quickly moving toward a time when if a raw material cannot be tracked to its point of origin, then it will lose value because it will be seen as illegitimate.


Pharmaceutical Companies Have Supply Chains Too

A vast number of components go into the making of pharmaceutical products. It goes without saying that the chemicals and materials used by drug manufacturers must be scrupulously sourced—it’s a matter of life and death. Compared to other industries, pharmaceutical supply chains are extended, lead times are long, and a growing welter of government regulations combine to present steep challenges. 

As the industry grows and evolves, the pharmaceutical supply chain will become more complex while at the same time face ever-increasing scrutiny from regulators, investors, and the public. Along with tougher environmental controls and regulations, this pressure will oblige companies to strategically reassess their supply chain approach.

It’s long been a best practice for pharmaceutical companies to maintain robust supply chain data, and they are quickly recognizing blockchain technology to be an important new tool. Blockchain holds great promise as a solution for secure and transparent management of pharmaceutical supply chains from original source to consumer. Its uniquely distributed network enables the development of complete end-to-end supply chain management for every product and company.

Human data is just as much a part of the pharmaceutical supply chain as any other raw material.

Human Data Is Part of the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain—And Requires Legitimacy

To make accurate business decisions, pharmaceutical and healthcare companies are increasingly reliant on robust patient and non-patient data. Thanks to the digital revolution, the buying and selling of human data has become a big industry, representing an estimated USD 150 billion to 200 billion annually. 

Human data is just as much a part of the pharmaceutical supply chain as any other raw material. It’s necessary to make the products. And yet for years, companies have been buying data bundles with unclear ownership titles.

Think about it: Would a drug company buy chemicals from a supplier without being absolutely certain of the chain of ownership? Of course not.

Thanks to blockchain technology, it’s now possible for pharmaceutical and healthcare companies to source 100 percent legitimate human data whose chain of ownership—and proof of sale—can be traced back to the very individuals from whence it came.

The marketing of legitimate human data, facilitated by Hu-manity, makes it easier for all stakeholders in the current data supply chain to meet a higher level of regulatory and ethical compliance, have a better posture of trust and transparency, and benefit both the beginning of the supply chain (individual healthcare consumers) and the end of the supply chain (most often pharmaceutical and insurance companies) at the same time.

It’s no longer necessary for companies to buy data that has a vague or hidden source. Thanks to Hu-manity’s proprietary blockchain technology and the #My31 app, companies can now participate in the human data marketplace where our inherent human data has the legal characteristics of property ownership.

If it’s important to know where your coffee beans come from, it should be just as important to know where your human data comes from. And now it’s possible. It won’t be long before the sourcing of exclusively legitimate and traceable human data will be an industry best practice.

Follow Richie on Twitter: @RichieEtwaru