AI IN PHARMA: The Role of Artificial Intelligence in the Pharmaceutical Industry

“Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love for humanity,” says Hippocrates.

Through centuries of dedication and extensive research, the medical industry has managed to come up with remedies to innumerable ailments and diseases, and has found cures for illnesses that used to be relegated as incurable and deadly. And the pharmaceutical sector performs an indispensable role in the world of medicine. From diagnosis and testing, to prescription and treatment, the pharmaceutical industry works around the clock in order to ensure optimal health and well-being. Having said that, the various processes involved in pharmaceutical interventions are extremely intensive and cumbersome, and a number of these can afford simplification to a great extent. Enter AI.
Artificial Intelligence is no less than modern-day Frankenstein’s monster, in that it is human’s magical creation that can perform all those tasks which humans are either incapable of carrying out, or end up investing too much time and effort in. Today, from chat-bots at our disposal to self-driving cars, the world is approaching an AI renaissance of sorts. In such a scenario, can such an integral domain as pharmaceutics stay far behind? We are back with a blog, and this time, we shall disclose to you the key areas in pharmaceuticals where AI is being put to use, as well as those sub-fields where AI has tremendous scope:

Testing and diagnosis forms a crucial part of the intervention process, in that it provides the doctor and the patient with a definite direction in the tumultuous journey of treatment and cure. The usual testing and diagnosis process consists of examining, in a laboratory, the collected samples of the patient, and detecting any abnormalities or irregular patterns in the same. However, with the advent of Artificial Intelligence, it is now possible to use a compressed version of lab testing, with the help of easy-to-use diagnostic kits. In fact, a report published by AIMEDIS suggests that in April 2018, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved to commercialize the first AI machine to detect diabetes retinopathy, a major eye disease. AI is almost like your Superman of the pharma world – a magical savior.

Need personalized medical treatment and solutions? AI has the perfect solution for you. AI now consists of a cloud-system called IBM Watson that can store large amounts of patient data. Then, with the help of this vast repertoire of information, IBM Watson can come up with tailor-made solutions for each patient based on individual symptoms and requirements. Heard of “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”? How about we replace ‘apple’ with ‘AI’?

Unless programmed in a faulty manner, robots cannot falter in their deeds. What if a perfectly designed robot performs surgery on a patient? There’s no escaping the fact that while doctors are no less than demigods to us, they are just as human as any of us, and they deserve their own breaks and rest.
With AI and unbelievable advancement in robotic technology, robots can now be programmed to perform assisted surgery, which not only ensures absolute precision and better control of surgical instruments, but also provides surgeons with intermittent breaks during the course of the surgery. Moreover, with the help of Verb Surgical, a Johnson and Johnson initiative in collaboration with Google, it is now possible for surgeons to manage, with remarkable efficiency, the paraphernalia of surgery, including pre-surgery planning and preparation and post-surgery analysis and care.

AI is now being widely used in the various processes of cancer treatment, including diagnosis, treatment and radiation. The faculty of medicine at the Toronto University has come up with a unique software that utilizes the data obtained through radiation therapy, in order to come up with customized treatment plans for the patients. In addition, IBM Watson is also being used in order to develop cancer treatment plans. While clinicians are still majorly involved in the entire radiation process, AI is predicted to soon reduce the segmentation process duration from 4-5 hours to around an hour.
In addition, Genetech, a member of the Roche group (which is a research-based healthcare giant), in collaboration with GNS healthcare, has come up with a machine learning technology dedicated to cancer treatment. This software processes large amounts of information on cancer patients, and converts these to computer models that can be used to come up with new cancer interventions.

The sub-fields of pharmacy and medicine listed above are just the tips of the iceberg. Artificial Intelligence is predicted to bring about substantial changes in various stages and phases of cancer diagnosis, treatment and cure. However, while AI and robotics can provide patients and doctors with personalized solutions, and bring about efficiency in the process, any journey of medical intervention requires emotions and empathy alongside intelligence. And that’s precisely why one cannot do away with humans in a profession as sensitive as medicine and pharmacy. Perhaps, if the right balance between AI sensibility and human sensitivity is attained, it is possible to achieve unparalleled heights in the domain of healthcare and medicine.

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