Pharma companies take the digital pathway with AI algorithms and Big Data to speed up drug discovery
Pharma companies are seen to tread the digital pathway during the ongoing pandemic phase with the implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) and Big Data to speed up drug discovery and focus on operational cost-effectiveness.
According to Shashank Kumar, senior consultant, Cloud Engineering Studio, Brillio, technology disruption is helping pharma companies to innovate and improve drug development, upgrade production plants, and rebuild the business model to ensure operational cost-effectiveness.
In order to rebound faster, the pharma industry needs to consider deploying digital and data analytics tools. This is because the digital revolution has led to a fundamental shift in the way pharmaceutical organizations conduct business with a focus on patient experience across all the stages of the value chain, he added.
Amidst the pandemic, different segments of the pharma value chain have been affected. There have been shortages of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and formulations due to supply chain inconsistencies. The research and development focus is largely on the ongoing over 1,800 Covid-19 related clinical studies. This has halted many non-Covid related human trials. Further, pharma marketing promotional activities have taken the virtual platform mode to communicate directly with medical professionals and the pharmacy fraternity via AI chatbots giving them 24/7 support, Kumar told Pharmabiz.
There are two short-term impacts on the pharma industry with Covid-19. One is the delayed approvals for non-Covid drugs and the other is the consumption changes towards preventive health-related products.
On average an Indian pharmaceutical company spends 13% of its annual turnover on R&D. A key strategic priority for the company is to establish a global market presence for which dependence on digital technology is evident as it helps to gain an insight on competition to improve its R&D and manufacturing efficiency, he noted.
Past year, we have witnessed the power of the internet, data science, connected devices, and AI which allowed a digital transformation of the pharma sector. The focus has been quality and productivity. Hiring qualified and skilled human resources for AI, machine learning (ML), cloud computing, robotic process automation (RPA) has been on the rise.
For the pharma industry using new-age technologies help to reduce the cost and improve the time to market for the new drugs. Digitization, automation, robotic technology, and AI have been reduced manufacturing downtime and controlled product wastage. There is also collaboration at a global level in compliance amongst each country’s pharmaceutical regulatory bodies where automation software for common standards and compliances are being increasingly implemented.
Therefore Covid-19 has compelled pharmaceutical companies to contemplate on the new normal such as work from home, travel bans, supply-chain bottlenecks, the slowdown in clinical-trial recruitment, with scrutiny of drug reimbursement as pressure mounts up on healthcare budgets for countries across the world.
Many industries have struggled but with technologies like automated manufacturing facilities, and AI in drug discovery, innovations are occurring at lightning speed to offset the operational challenges of the pandemic. This crisis has acted as a catalyst to transform the sector, making it sustainable and better prepared for future exigencies, said Kumar.