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Artificial Intelligence in Pharmaceutical Industry: 8 Exciting Applications in 2023

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20th Sep, 2021
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Artificial Intelligence in Pharmaceutical Industry: 8 Exciting Applications in 2023

Thanks to Data Science, we have amidst us such innovations that were once the components of science fiction. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) have revolutionized the industry and led to the invention of things like virtual assistants, self-driving cars, smart homes, chatbots, surgical bots, and so much more.

According to Tractica, the global artificial intelligence software market is forecast to grow from $10.1 billion in 2018 to $126 billion by 2025. In a data-driven age where companies across all parallels of the industry are adopting Big Data and Artificial intelligence technologies, the pharmaceutical industry is no exception. 

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When it comes to the pharmaceutical industry, AI presents an ocean of untapped opportunities for business transformation. Big Data, along with AI-powered analytics, has brought about a radical shift in the innovation paradigm of the pharma sector.

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Artificial Intelligence in pharmaceutical industry has the potential to foster innovation while simultaneously improving productivity and delivering better outcomes across the value chain. AI can significantly improve the value proposition of pharma companies by driving innovation and the creation of new business models. 

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What is Artificial Intelligence in the Pharmaceutical Industry?  

Before delving deeper, let’s explore the broad spectrum of technologies encompassed by the term “AI” and their practical applications. Typically, technology experts categorize AI into three main directions: 

  • Data Science Algorithms: Automated algorithms in data science are made to examine historical data and generate new options. Based on the patient’s clinical information and medical history, it may, for instance, offer a more efficient treatment plan or medication combination. This is just one of the examples of AI in healthcare.
  • Machine Learning Algorithms: A more complex method of using neural network analytics for decision-making analysis is using machine learning algorithms. It uses pre-given datasets to classify and categorize data to forecast decision outcomes. This is a dependable and fast method for developing marketing campaigns or carrying out clinical experiments. 
  • Deep Learning: Deep learning, which is utilized for more in-depth diagnosis, is founded on more complex learning and natural language processing techniques. It can produce the best possible solution by combining collected data with past treatment outcomes or other patient-specific information and analyzing sensitive imagery such as radiology scans or skin problems. 

Applications of Artificial Intelligence in the Pharmaceutical Industry

AI can be implemented in almost every aspect of the pharmaceutical industry, right from drug discovery and development to manufacturing and marketing. By leveraging and implementing AI systems in the core workflows, pharma companies can make all business operations efficient, cost-effective, and hassle-free.

The best part is that since AI systems are designed to deliver better outcomes as they continually learn from new data and experience, they can be a powerful tool in the research and development wing of the pharmaceutical industry.

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Let’s look at some of the most mention-worthy applications of Artificial Intelligence in pharmaceutical industry:

1. R&D

Pharma companies around the world are leveraging advanced ML algorithms and AI-powered tools to streamline the drug discovery process. These intelligent tools are designed to identify intricate patterns in large datasets, and hence, they can be used to solve challenges associated with complicated biological networks.

This capability is excellent for studying the patterns of various diseases and recognizing which drug compositions would be best suited for treating specific traits of a particular disease. Pharma companies can accordingly invest in the R&D of such drugs that have the highest chances of successfully treating a disease or medical condition.

2. Drug Development

AI holds the potential to improve the R&D process. From designing and identifying new molecules to target-based drug validation and discoveries, AI can do it all.

According to an MIT study, only 13.8% of drugs are successful in passing clinical trials. To top that, a pharma company has to pay anywhere between US$ 161 million to US$ 2 billion for a drug to get through the complete process of clinical trial and get FDA approval. These are the two main reasons why pharma companies are increasingly adopting AI to improve the success rates of new drugs, create more affordable drugs ad therapies, and, most importantly, reduce operational costs.

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3. Diagnosis 

Doctors can use advanced Machine Learning systems to collect, process, and analyze vast volumes of patients’ healthcare data. Healthcare providers around the world are using ML technology to store sensitive patient data securely in the cloud or a centralized storage system. This is known as electronic medical records (EMRs).

Doctors can refer to these records as and when they need to understand the impact of a specific genetic trait on a patient’s health or how a particular drug can treat a health condition. ML systems can use the data stored in EMRs to make real-time predictions for diagnosis purposes and suggest proper treatment to patients. 

Since ML technologies possess the ability to process and analyze massive amounts of data quickly, they can help quicken the diagnosis process, thereby helping save millions of lives.

Recently, in mid-April, the marketing of a medical device named GI Genius that is based on Machine Learning and uses an AI algorithm was authorized by FDA. It is now being utilized by clinicians to detect signs of colon cancer. With the help of this device, you can easily detect portions of the colon, with potential lesions, during the time of colonoscopy. 

Learn more: Expert System in Artificial Intelligence

4. Disease Prevention

Pharma companies can use AI to develop cures for both known diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and rare diseases. Generally, pharmaceutical companies do not spend their time and resources on finding treatments for rare diseases since the ROI is very low compared to the time and cost it takes to develop drugs for treating rare diseases.

According to  Global Genes, nearly 95% of rare diseases don’t have FDA approved treatments or cures. However, thanks to AI and ML’s innovative abilities, the scenario is rapidly changing for the better.

5. Epidemic prediction

AI and ML are already used by many pharma companies and healthcare providers to monitor and forecast epidemic outbreaks across the globe. These technologies feed on the data gathered from disparate sources in the Web, study the connection of various geological, environmental, and biological factors on the health of the population of different geographical locations, and try to connect the dots between these factors and previous epidemic outbreaks. Such AI/ML models become especially useful for underdeveloped economies that lack the medical infrastructure and financial framework to deal with an epidemic outbreak.

A good example of this AI application is the ML-based Malaria Outbreak Prediction Model that functions as a warning tool predicting any possible malaria outbreak and aid healthcare providers in taking the best course of action to combat it.

6. Remote Monitoring

Remote monitoring is a breakthrough in the pharma and healthcare sectors. Many pharma companies have already developed wearables powered by AI algorithms that can remotely monitor patients suffering from life-threatening diseases. 

For instance, Tencent Holdings has collaborated with Medopad to develop an AI technology that can remotely monitor patients with Parkinson’s disease and reducing the time taken to perform a motor function assessment from 30 minutes to three minutes. By integrating this AI technology with smartphone apps, it is possible to monitor the opening and closing motions of the hands of a patient from a remote location.

On detecting hand movement, the smartphone camera will capture it to determine the severity of the symptoms (Parkinson’s). The frequency and amplitude of the movement will determine the severity score of the patient’s condition, thereby allowing doctors to change the drugs as well as the drug doses remotely.

In case the conditions become worse demanding a treatment upgrade, the AI will send an alert to the doctor and arrange a checkup. Remote setups like these help eliminate the need to travel back and forth to the doctor’s clinic, saving patients the hassle of traveling and waiting. 

7. Manufacturing 

Pharma companies can implement AI in the manufacturing process for higher productivity, improved efficiency, and faster production of life-saving drugs. AI can be used to manage and improve all aspects of the manufacturing process, including:

  • Quality control
  • Predictive maintenance
  • Waste reduction
  • Design optimization
  • Process automation

AI can replace the time-consuming conventional manufacturing techniques, thereby helping pharma companies to launch drugs in the market much faster and at cheaper rates as well. Apart from increasing their ROI substantially by limiting the human intervention in the manufacturing process, AI would also eliminate any scope for human error. 

Also read: Learning Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning

8. Marketing 

Given the fact that the pharmaceutical industry is a sales-driven sector, AI can be a handy tool in pharma marketing. With AI, pharma companies can explore and develop unique marketing strategies that promise high revenues and brand awareness.

AI can help to map the customer journey, thereby allowing companies to see which marketing technique led visitors to their site (lead conversion) and ultimately pushed the converted visitors to purchase from them. In this way, pharma companies can focus more on those marketing strategies that lead to most conversions and increase revenues. 

AI tools can analyze past marketing campaigns and compare the results to identify which campaigns remained the most profitable. This allows companies to design the present marketing campaigns accordingly, while also reducing time and saving money. Furthermore, AI systems can even accurately predict the success or failure rate of marketing campaigns.

Although AI is rapidly finding applications in the pharma industry, the process of transformation is not without challenges. Usually, the current IT infrastructure of most pharma companies is based on legacy systems that aren’t optimized for AI.

Moreover, the integration and adoption of AI demand industry expertise and skills, something that is still not readily available. However, the process of AI adoption in the pharma sector can be made easy by taking these steps:

  • Partnering and collaborating with academic institutions that specialize in AI R&D to guide pharma companies with AI adoption. 
  • Collaborate with companies that specialize in AI-driven medicine discovery to reap the benefits of expert assistance, advanced tools, and industry experience. 
  • Train R&D and manufacturing teams to use and implement AI tools and techniques in the proper way for optimal productivity.

9.Drug Adherence And Dosage

The use of artificial intelligence in pharmaceutical industry is growing at an unprecedented pace. AI in pharma is now being used to identify the right amounts of drug intake to ensure the safety of drug consumers. It not only helps to monitor the patients during clinical trials but also suggests the right amount of dosage at regular intervals. 

Artificial intelligence in pharmaceuticals has led to faster automation in processes and is one of the key factors behind the increasing need for accuracy in this industry. The opportunities available for AI in pharma are unmeasurable and ensure both efficiency and compliance. Furthermore, AI in pharmaceuticals has also unlocked several potential AI jobs for people that come with lucrative salaries and benefits. 

Future Of Artificial Intelligence In Pharmacy

Researchers indicate that by the year 2025, almost 50% of global healthcare facilities will be implementing this technology in their business operations. Such is the growth of artificial intelligence in pharmacy. Drug developmental companies are expected to invest more in this technology for finding innovative solutions to chronic and oncology diseases. Some of the major chronic diseases that are expected to be tackled by Artificial Intelligence include diabetes, cancer, and chronic kidney diseases. 

AI is also expected to improve the current candidate selection processes for clinical trials through faster assessments and identifications of the best patients for a given trial. Experts can harness the power of AI to provide more valuable information from the data provided for their patients. This includes MRI images, and mammograms as well. While all of these will surely revolutionize the whole industry of healthcare, there is an additional benefit of lots of AI jobs that will be available in the future, for people who specialize in this field. With the increasing adaptability of this technology, accessibility to the same will no longer be an issue, and it will slowly and steadily become a part of the natural process within pharmaceuticals and manufacturing. 

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Benefits of Artificial Intelligence for Pharma Companies

Artificial intelligence in pharmaceutical industry has immense benefits. I have highlighted some of them below: 

  • Drug Discovery Fast Lane: AI turbocharges drug discovery, helping Pharma folks sift through tons of data to find potential new medicines in record time. 
  • Medicine Made-to-Order: AI customizes treatments based on individual patient info, making meds work better and causing fewer headaches. 
  • Quick and Painless Trials: AI makes clinical trials smoother by finding the right participants, predicting how patients will react, and basically speeding up the whole research rodeo. 
  • Smart Supply Chains: AI predicts how much medicine is needed, preventing shortages or mountains of excess pills, making sure there’s just the right amount. This is one of the key benefits of artificial intelligence in healthcare.
  • Detecting Shenanigans: AI tools catch any sneaky business and make sure Pharma companies play by the rules, saving them from legal headaches and big fines. 
  • Friendly Customer Service: AI-powered chatbots make it easy for customers to get info and refill prescriptions, making the whole customer experience more pleasant. 
  • Keeping Secrets Safe: AI helps pharma companies lock down patient info, so it doesn’t end up where it shouldn’t, keeping everyone’s secrets safe and sound. 

Wrapping up

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To conclude, the scope of artificial intelligence in pharmaceutical industry looks highly promising. As an increasing number of pharma companies adopt AI and ML technologies, it will lead to the democratization of these advanced technologies, thereby making it more accessible for small and medium-sized pharma companies as well. 

If you’re interested to learn more about AI, machine learning, check out IIIT-B & upGrad’s PG Diploma in Machine Learning & AI which is designed for working professionals and offers 450+ hours of rigorous training, 30+ case studies & assignments, IIIT-B Alumni status, 5+ practical hands-on capstone projects & job assistance with top firms.

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Kechit Goyal

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Experienced Developer, Team Player and a Leader with a demonstrated history of working in startups. Strong engineering professional with a Bachelor of Technology (BTech) focused in Computer Science from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1How is AI used in the pharmaceutical industry?

Artificial Intelligence is used in the pharma industry to manage the process of clinical trial databases, it manages all the clinical trials database and maintain, organize and store the data in a database. AI is also used to reduce cost of developing new drugs, it also helps to improve the services of clinical research services to take better decisions, manage the database and increase revenue. AI is being used in the pharmaceutical industry to help in the processes of drug discovery and development. A lot of companies, including Google, are already involved in this field. The first use of AI in the pharmaceutical industry was by Pfizer.

2How does AI help in drug discovery?

AI is increasingly used in drug discovery to assist in the virtual screening of large numbers of compounds and to evaluate the structures of novel compounds. For example, a deep neural network that was trained to identify the binding poses of three different compounds of interest to a protein target was then used to predict the poses of possible novel ligands. The training set included known ligands as well as many other compounds with known poses and non-binding conformations. The percentage of the novel compounds that were predicted to bind to the protein target were verified to bind in both in vitro and in vivo assays.

3Will AI lead to cheaper and better medications?

Lots of prescriptions are filled with medications which have rare side effects. As a result, people have stopped buying those medications. The AI has predicted the combinations of medications which will work for individuals and therefore fewer people will have to stop taking those medications. The consumers will buy the medications more confidently as they will be sure that the medications are safe and without any side effects. In addition, the AI will help to create new drug combinations which will improve the efficiency and cost of medications.

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