Sector News

If pharma looks slow to adopt AI, it’s got good reason, expert says

May 2, 2019
Life sciences

Pharma hasn’t exactly won accolades for its speed in adopting new artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies. But while it’s drawn flak for that digital lag, it’s got good reason to proceed with caution where AI is concerned, one expert says.

After all, AI in pharma carries much higher stakes than your average Alexa or Google Maps query. “The results of a misprediction on your GPS on the phone is going to result in 15 minutes’ delay, or an hour delay. It’s not going to be hundreds of millions (of dollars), and it would not cost lives of patients,” David Harel, CEO of machine learning company CytoReason, said.

In light of what’s at stake, “we don’t see the adoption of the new software technologies as particularly slow in life sciences,” Harel said, adding that “no decision of this size is done quickly and without thorough thinking and solid justification.”

And just because pharma may be moving more slowly than other industries doesn’t mean it’s shying away. On the contrary, Harel said, CytoReason—which will present as part of the AI and Digital Health tracks next month at the MIXiii BIOMED conference in Tel Aviv—has seen “most large pharma companies very open” to new technologies.

Its pharma partnerships tell a similar story: Since its founding in 2016, pharma partners including GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer have looked to tap CytoReason’s tech through partnerships aimed at determining what human cells do in response to a disease and its treatment.

Of course, not every startup is that successful in convincing pharma players to join forces. CytoReason, for its part, credits a “body of evidence” in support of its tech, including publications that outline its methods or provide specific applications. That evidence gives drugmakers “some confidence” in AI, Harel said.

Meanwhile, pharma is slowly leaning into AI outside of drug and clinical trial development, too. Late last year, CMI/Compas executive Paul Kallukaran told listeners at a digital conference that pharma companies should start looking at using machine learning in their marketing strategies “yesterday.”

And Novartis, for its part, made headlines earlier this year with news that it had outfitted its sales reps with an AI service that suggests doctors to call on and subjects to bring up during meetings. The Swiss drugmaker has repeatedly talked up its digital leadership, with pharma chief Paul Hudson warning in January that 2019 would be the “beginning of the tech disruption” for pharma across all business functions.

But its peers may not follow suit—at least as enthusiastically—until they see the payoff with their own eyes.

“The reality is that we don’t expect pharma companies to change their business model because other industries have been disrupted,” Harel said.

By Carly Helfand

Source: Fierce Pharma

Join the discussion!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related News

January 10, 2021

Merck to acquire German contract development company AmpTec

Life sciences

The deal will enhance Merck’s expertise in developing and manufacturing mRNA for its customers for use in vaccines, treatments and diagnostics applicable in Covid-19 and various other diseases.

January 10, 2021

Goodbye pill, hello science: Pfizer debuts redesigned logo with double helix

Life sciences

It’s the first significant visual redesign for Pfizer in 70 years since the company began using the blue oval background. The tagline outlining Pfizer’s purpose, “Breakthroughs that change patients’ lives,” remains the same.

January 10, 2021

Fujifilm triples down on viral vector manufacturing with new $40M Boston site

Life sciences

The massive growth of gene therapy research and development over the last few years has boosted demand for viral vectors, the engineered viruses used to deliver therapeutic genes into patients’ bodies. Tokyo-based Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies is stepping up to meet that demand.

Send this to a friend