AI in Pharmaceutical Industry and Drug Development

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AI (Artificial Intelligence) is one of the most discussed topics nowadays. Together with machine learning, the software is getting more and more involved in our lives. It has become a crucial part of our technological infrastructure and the mind behind many customer devices. The spark of artificial intelligence in the pharmaceutical industry has lit up as well.

The AI environment

Artificial intelligence in pharma refers to the use of automated algorithms to perform tasks, which traditionally rely on human knowledge. Over the last few years, AI in the biotech industry has transformed the ways of drug development and treating diseases.

According to an ICON survey of more than 300 executives, managers, and professionals in biopharma and medical device development companies, nearly 80% of respondents said their firms plan to use, or are using, AI or Big Data approaches to improve the research and development performance. Moreover, ICON’s 2019 report on digital distribution in biopharma, indicates that the R&D is the aspect that can be mostly developed using AI. From a more strategic point of view, the algorithms help seize opportunities, missed before, and can also be cost-saving. Almost every business is either already using AI or investing in it, and the pharma is benefitting as well.

The challenge

Drug discovery and development are among the essential translational science activities that contribute to human health and wellbeing. The pharma industry is facing challenges to overcome the high attrition rates in the process.

A study published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has found that only 13.8% of the drugs successfully pass clinical trials. Furthermore, a company can expect to pay from $161 million to $2 billion for any drug to complete the entire clinical trial process and get FDA approval.

This cost is for the full process of bringing a new drug to the market, from drug discovery through clinical trials to approval. To take medicine through the R&D phase and the FDA approval phase is a long and highly expensive process, that may be helped by the technology nowadays. Artificial intelligence (AI), combined with new experimental technologies, is expected to make the hunt for new pharmaceuticals quicker, cheaper, and more effective.

Drug approval

How can AI contribute to the situation? The answer is simple – by creating the right algorithm. Artificial Intelligence will be able to determine the success rates of a specific drug before all these processes have even begun. By taking into consideration various factors, such as:

Review of deviations and changes in production and quality control.

Batch record review for completeness, integrity, and compliance.

AI can calculate the chance of success.
AI can calculate the chance of success.

The system will be able to calculate and make decisions based on different criteria for approval. This way, the company will be aware of the chances and whether it is worth the money or not. The new way of implementation can save years and a ton of expenses.

Drug development

The discovery of a medicine is coming together with AI to improve efficiency. Few newly developed companies are already trying to implement Artificial Intelligence for automating the drug discovery process. Machine learning, a branch of AI, can now predict the physical and chemical properties of small molecules at quantum mechanics-level accuracy with much lower time-cost. By data gathering and analysis, companies are taking an algorithm approach that can positively impact the drug discovery phase beginning with the preclinical trails. It allows for a faster and cheaper process.

Artificial intelligence can improve efficiency and outcomes in drug development across therapeutic areas. Companies are developing AI technologies that hold the promise of preventing serious adverse events in clinical trials by identifying high-risk individuals even before they enroll.

Technology and its applications in the medicine and pharma sector has the potential to make waves. Possibly in the future, coming up with a new drug could be measured in days rather than years, and the cost will be thousands instead of billions. With the abilities of the Artificial Intelligence in the pharmaceutical industry, the process of drug discovery, development and efficiency will be revolutionized.