Artificial Intelligence in Pharma: how is it changing the pharma industry?
During this time, the pharma business has faced immense and unexpected problems, which have had an impact on all of our lives. It is a vast and complex sector that includes everything from giant multinational corporations to tiny pharmacies. And now we can say that, on the whole, it has reacted well to these extraordinary periods of crisis. It has done so in the past, and it will continue to do so in the future.
How did this happen? Of course, there really is no one-size-fits-all solution.
The causes are numerous and complex, and everyone industry has put in a tremendous amount of effort. But one thing is certain: sans Digital Transformation, a change that was already happening at all stages in this business, such a quick and successful reaction would’ve been inconceivable.
If big data is the energy, Artificial Intelligence is the engine that propels progress in the pharmaceutical companies, increasing the efficiency of the “machines” each day. As you can see, the two components are inextricably linked.
This new post is dedicated to the issue of artificial intelligence in the pharmaceutical industry.
Whenever we talk about AI, what exactly do we mean?
Artificial intelligence, or AI, is a catchphrase on everybody’s lips that is often used as a slogan before losing its concrete and operational meaning.
So, to begin, let’s rapidly define the limits of this large field, based on certain Accenture definitions.
First and foremost, it’s critical to note that artificial intelligence is “a collection of distinct technologies that interact to enable machines to perceive, understand, act, and learn with human-like levels of intelligence,” rather than a single technology (Source: Accenture).
Following our analysis, we can distinguish between two types of artificial intelligence:
Restricted (or weak) AI: the most frequent in our everyday lives, covering specific areas of activity, sometimes including single tasks with high stakes. The fundamental purpose of this type of application is to improve the effectiveness of all operations.
General (or strong) AI: we’re dealing with a vast and rapidly evolving field involving computer systems capable of “thinking” tactically, abstract concepts, and artistically, as well as “managing a variety of massive tasks.”
Let’s be clear: both parties are involved in artificial intelligence applications in the pharmaceutical industry. These applications are numerous, some are linked with processes affecting other industries with which Pharma is associated, and they are continually evolving, therefore this is not the place to provide a full list.
Here’s an interesting statistic: by 2025, around half of all pharmaceutical and healthcare organizations will have used artificial intelligence approaches (Source: pharmanewsintel.com).
And, to be clear, implementing AI systems does not imply that people will be replaced by “robots.” On the opposite, we’re talking about a closer partnership in order to truly put the human being, the patient, at the center of everything: the Customer Service experience, in other words. This is the most important aspect to remember at all times!
In the next section of this piece, we’ll look at four macro-themes that span a variety of topics but are all linked. In this approach, we hope to provide the reader with the most comprehensive overview of artificial intelligence in the pharmaceutical industry, as a starting place for further research.
New transportation and smart factories
The Smart Factory is the fundamental unit of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, also known as Industry 4.0. This is, of course, a procedure that impacts many businesses, not just pharmaceuticals.
To summarise, it involves introducing digitalization to production facilities, boosting machine connectedness through IoT (Internet of Things) technologies, and adopting data analytics, deep learning, and other data-driven dynamics.
What are the objectives and advantages?
- Process control to the max
- All production chains are optimized.
- Productivity has increased significantly.
- Enhanced security
Smart Factories and new logistics
Factory 4.0 is the game-changing innovation that will shorten time to market and meet the expectations of an environment that requires maximum reactivity in the form of quick, adaptable, and flexible solutions. Consider this: at this time of healthcare crisis, that’s precisely what’s been required.
Lastly, logistics and distribution are major concerns. Another critical issue for Pharmaceutical is the need for a fast and automated capillary delivery network. All of this must be accomplished without collapsing and while adhering to a complex priority scale (just think about the difference between the distribution of urgent and ordinary drugs, of the issue of perishability, or of requests that can proceed in waves, sometimes unforeseen, with all the complex consequences).
Once more, the computer revolution and artificial intelligence technologies competent in processing large amounts of data are the only solutions available in this industry.
A boost for the research and development front
The collecting and analysis of data is once again the beginning. The ability to analyze and implement these studies is the moment of entry. And this is exactly what artificial intelligence in the pharmaceutical industry must accomplish.
What does this mean in practice?
- New drug research and development durations have been shortened.
- In both regard to time and in selecting the most acceptable profiles, effectiveness in recruiting volunteers for clinical studies is essential.
- New therapeutic combinations are being discovered.
- Assistance in screening and diagnosis.
- The finished pharmaceutical product will be of a higher grade.
- Improved security.
- Cost and waste minimization.
- The capability of fast recalibrating research and innovation depends on early results interpretation.
Obviously, we’re speaking about a large number of critical aspects. And it’s important to remember that the use of AI systems has a tremendously positive effect on all of these at the same time. A powerful positive cycle is set in motion.
The chemical DSP-1181, produced by the startup Exscientia in partnership with the Japanese corporation Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma for the treatment of the obsessive-compulsive disorder, was announced in 2020 as the first medication made solely with the use of artificial intelligence. They achieved what might have required numerous years using standard methods in just twelve months (Source: europeanpharmaceuticalreview.com).
IoMT and therapy 4.0
From smartphone apps to wearable gadgets to ingestible or implantable monitors under the skin, the term IoMT (Internet of Medical Things) encompasses technology and digital gadgets for people’s health and well-being. It’s yet another enormous and rapidly increasing field, as we’ve already indicated.
As a result of all of this, therapeutic mixtures are improving, becoming quicker (even in real-time), and much more effective. Furthermore, and this is an extremely important point, treatment is becoming progressively customized. This is a true innovation that bears the moniker “precision medicine” (Source: Medline Plus).
Furthermore, the combination of IoMT and AI is – and will be – a powerful tool for everything linked to prevention, from cancer diseases to mental health and neurodegenerative motor issues.
Finally, avoidance isn’t the only option. It is possible to build a more regular and close engagement with the individual as a result of IoMT, and the individual will be more likely to monitor and maybe change hazardous behaviors and habits in the short and long term.
The patient at the center: pharmacies and the new personalized digital communication
We began with Factory 4.0, then went on to large numbers of R&D, IoMT, and progressively customized treatments… And now, at long last, we’re closing the circle on specific individuals, specific patients.
Even in the pharmaceutical industry, the road must always be from digital to physical, from large data to interpersonal interactions. And, without a question, the pharmacies distributed across a territory form the initial line of these partnerships.
In an increasingly crucial sense, the use of artificial intelligence systems in pharma is concerned with this network, which is so complex and part of our everyday habits.
Even in the “narrow realm” of pharmacy, AI has far-reaching and fundamental ramifications. The pharmacist’s task needs to be optimized. The warehousing and order management are being improved. Above all else, there’s the focus on customer happiness. This last point is particularly important. It also means that the digital and traditional sides must be accompanied and integrated.
So, beginning with the digitization of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) technologies, create a new automatic, always-on, and individualized digital connection with each individual patient.
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