The Growing Role of Artificial Intelligence in the Pharmaceutical Industry

The Growing Role of Artificial Intelligence in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Naveen Joshi 06/04/2020 7
The Growing Role of Artificial Intelligence in the Pharmaceutical Industry

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in pharmaceutical companies can help in providing better diagnosis, developing better quality drugs, and improving patient healthcare procedures.

The pharmaceutical industry forms an integral part of the healthcare sector. However, the growth of the industry has slowed down in the last few years. Many industry experts believe that the pharmaceutical market has reached a saturation stage. But, there is hope for the sector in the form of technological innovation. Technologies such as telemedicine, smart wearables, smart nanodevices, and artificial intelligence are expected to transform the pharmaceutical industry. Out of these, artificial intelligence will play a significant role in pushing the industry forward and will see a widespread application. So, here’s a look at how artificial intelligence will be utilized in the pharmaceutical industry.

Applications of Artificial Intelligence in the Pharmaceutical Sector

The use of AI in the pharmaceutical sector encompasses the use of computer algorithms to carry out tasks that otherwise rely on human intelligence. It can help scientists and biotechnologists streamline the process of drug discovery and development, assist in diagnosis, and automate repetitive tasks that usually end up wasting time and human resources. Some major areas that can benefit from artificial intelligence include:

Drug Research

The research and development of a new drug is a complex process. It costs around USD 2.6 billion and 12 years to develop a new drug. Additionally, only about 14% of the drugs clear clinical trials. Thus, the current methods of drug development prove highly inefficient. Artificial intelligence can significantly help overcome these inefficiencies. It can help reduce the time spent on the research and development of new medicines. AI can be used to predict the physical and chemical properties of molecules. The accuracy of the prediction is also very high with AI, and the process also proves to be time and cost-effective. Thus, new drugs can be synthesized quickly and have better positive effects on patients. One of the biggest reasons why drug development and research fails is because the medicines target a single disease-causing gene. Artificial intelligence can be leveraged to map out hundreds of genes at once responsible for diseases. Drugs can then be developed to target all the disease-causing genes at once. Artificial intelligence can, thus, be utilized to find solutions for complex diseases such as ALS and Alzheimers. The use of artificial intelligence leads to faster research and development of drugs that can target all the genes at once.


Artificial intelligence can be used to interpret medical scans and images. The artificial intelligence software then compares the input image with visually similar images present in its database. It can detect any anomalies, if present, by accurately comparing data contained in the images. Doctors can, thus, quickly and accurately diagnose diseases in individuals, thanks to artificial intelligence. Furthermore, they can then plan the treatment of the patient accordingly. The use of artificial intelligence for diagnosis has multiple applications in the healthcare industry, ranging from hypertension to eye conditions. However, it proves the most useful in fighting life-threatening diseases like cancer. Artificial intelligence startup Lunit has developed an AI solution for cancer detection. The 3D visualization software can help detect and diagnose rare cancers such as airway cancer. The probability of detecting cancer has increased to 80-86% with AI software. Over time, the accuracy is expected to get even higher.

Data Analysis and Management

The pharmaceutical sector creates gigabytes of data on a daily basis. Artificial intelligence can help store, manage, and analyze data efficiently. Artificial intelligence can help pharmaceutical companies keep a historical record of medicines, their chemical composition, and their uses. Thus, businesses can have easy access to medical data as and when required. Using artificial intelligence for data management can also prevent duplication of data. Data duplication can create problems in the future, and finding the desired data can become a time-consuming process. Artificial intelligence can easily sort data, and notify or even delete instances of data duplication. Thus, pharmacists can save ample time when referring to past data required for developing new drugs.

Precision Medicine

An artificial intelligence model can read and analyze large sets of data faster than humans. They can be utilized to analyze the medical history of individuals and their family members across generations. Thus, artificial intelligence can provide better accuracy at predicting diseases, including hereditary ones. Artificial intelligence can be used to create personalized treatments for individuals based on their complete medical history. Precise or personalized medicines can be recommended to patients that will help the patient recover quickly. Artificial intelligence not only proves helpful in determining the outcome of the current medical treatment, but it can also predict the probability of future diseases the patient might suffer from. Amplion is a leading precision medicine intelligence company that has released an artificial intelligence software, Dx: Revenue. This software delivers insights to pharma companies by analyzing and comparing data from over 34 million data sources to provide insights to pharmaceutical companies regarding the medicines developed by them. “Precision medicine has a problem,” says Chris Capdevila, CEO, Amplion“There is an insurmountable volume of information with the potential to drive the realization of precision medicine for patients, but accessing that information strategically, effectively and quickly to make the best pharma partnering decisions is beyond human scale. Our company was founded to address this issue by providing critical evidence-based intelligence that supports the strategic decisions pharmaceutical and test developers need to make to be successful.”The adoption of AI by major pharmaceutical companies

The industry leaders have realized the benefits of AI and have incorporated it in their workplace. Here’s a look at how the two major players, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline, have utilized AI:


Pfizer partnered with IBM Watson in 2016 to accelerate drug discovery in immuno-oncology. It has since had several collaborations with major institutions to streamline the drug research and development process. In 2018, Pfizer was declared a member of the Machine Learning for Pharmaceutical Discovery and Synthesis Consortium by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Similarly, it has collaborated with CytoReason and Concerto AI to push the envelope of drug discovery. Additionally, In 2019, Pfizer announced plans for a one-year pilot program to understand clinical journeys of patients using AI. The program was launched in partnership with Catalia Health. The program leverages Mabu, an AI capable robot that coaches individuals on prescription drugs.


GlaxoSmithKline has been one of the major pharmaceutical companies to leverage AI. GlaxoSmithKline has been one of the founding members of Accelerating Therapeutics for Opportunities in Medicine (ATOM) consortium. The consortium aims at transforming the drug discovery process from being time and resource-consuming with high failure rates to a quick and patient-centric process. It has even partnered with Google to create biomedicines that are implantable devices. These devices can modify electric signals passing through the nerves in the body. They can detect irregular or altered impulses that usually occur in people suffering from certain diseases. Additionally, it has partnered with AI startups to develop small-molecule agents to tackle up to ten disease-related targets.

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In spite of all the potential benefits AI promises, the technology has seen limited adoption by pharmaceutical companies. According to a report by HIMSS Analytics, less than 5% of healthcare organizations have adopted or invested in AI. Businesses that are looking to adopt AI in their work infrastructure can collaborate with businesses having expertise in AI technology to develop custom solutions for their work procedures, partner with medical institutions, or invest in AI R&D internally. AI is most likely the future of the industry. The use of AI in pharmaceutical operations can help the businesses involved to cut down costs, streamline processes, and, most importantly, help save lives. Businesses should let go of their apprehensions and look forward to implementing AI and push the industry forward.

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  • Gavin Beddow

    The Pharma industry is moving in the right direction

  • Natalie S

    AI will take Pharma to the next level !!

  • Michael Doran

    Very interesting

  • Killian Cross

    Excellent article

  • Vikas Nainani

    We can't find solutions on our own.... Let's trust AI to develop better medical drugs...

  • Stefan Rutkens

    Good read

  • Owen Channing

    Insightful !

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Naveen Joshi

Tech Expert

Naveen is the Founder and CEO of Allerin, a software solutions provider that delivers innovative and agile solutions that enable to automate, inspire and impress. He is a seasoned professional with more than 20 years of experience, with extensive experience in customizing open source products for cost optimizations of large scale IT deployment. He is currently working on Internet of Things solutions with Big Data Analytics. Naveen completed his programming qualifications in various Indian institutes.

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