How Pharma Giants Are Adopting AI for Future of Medicine

AI Adoption Strategies of Pharma Companies Disrupt Drug Discovery
How Pharma Giants Are Adopting AI for Future of Medicine
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Artificial intelligence has rapidly evolved, transforming numerous industries and sectors. The pharmaceutical industry, in particular, has witnessed significant advancements driven by AI's potential to not only disrupt drug discovery and development processes but also challenge long-standing scientific methods. Leading pharmaceutical companies have embraced AI technologies and implemented strategies to harness their capabilities.

A recent report by CB Insights titled "AI Strategies for 11 of the World's Largest Companies 2024" highlighted the AI strategies implemented by global leaders across diverse sectors, such as pharmaceutical, financial services, industrial, and enterprise technology. The report sheds light on how major pharmaceutical companies, including Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Johnson & Johnson, are using generative AI to disrupt drug discovery.

Eli Lilly's AI-Driven Drug Discovery Advancements

Eli Lilly has been at the forefront of AI-powered drug discovery with its strategic partnership with Isomorphic Labs. Earlier this year, Eli Lilly and Alphabet's Isomorphic Labs signed a $1.7 billion deal to discover small molecule therapeutics against multiple targets. Aside from collaborations for external innovation, Eli Lilly is also focusing on internal automation efforts, showcasing a holistic approach to harnessing the potential of AI in the pharmaceutical industry.

"The goal of [Eli Lilly's] AI-enabled automation strategy is to drive growth without adding to the company's payroll," said Diogo Rau, executive vice president and chief information and digital officer, Eli Lilly.

CNBC reported that Eli Lilly has been experimenting with generative AI to search through millions of molecules. Rau also mentioned that the company has conducted experiments to explore the potential of AI in the business aspects of the pharmaceutical industry.

Novo Nordisk's Partnership-Focused AI Strategy

Novo Nordisk - a long-established global pharmaceutical leader - is integrating AI in its research and development efforts to serve patients. In 2023, the company announced significant partnerships with Valo Health, Microsoft and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology - all focused on expanding Novo Nordisk’s AI capabilities.

The company is using AI to ensure safe and effective drug discovery and development. The report by CB Insights showed that Novo Nordisk is using AI to improve internal efficiencies, which was evidenced by the significant increase in document production speed through NovoScribe.

Novo Nordisk's strategic integration of AI in drug discovery aims to improve outcomes for patients with diabetes, obesity and other serious chronic diseases. Alongside partnerships, the pharma giant is investing in drug discovery, precision medicine and clinical workflow startups.

Johnson & Johnson's AI and Data Science Leap

Johnson & Johnson is making substantial investments in AI and data science to enhance its drug discovery efforts, strengthen its pharmaceutical business and reduce treatment timelines.

With a significant 7% increase in R&D spending each year, Johnson & Johnson aims to differentiate itself from competitors by adopting AI technology along with onboarding thousands of data scientists and specialists dedicated to advancing AI applications in drug discovery. Johnson & Johnson is also actively forming strategic partnerships with companies such as Nvidia to develop AI solutions tailored for surgical procedures.

Johnson & Johnson's MedTech unit is focused on creating innovative tools and solutions for various medical conditions, including heart failure, kidney disease and stroke. MedTech is utilized in more than 75 million procedures annually, according to CNBC.

AI and data science are at the core of the company's transformation and innovation, said Najat Khan, former chief data science officer, global head, strategy and operations, Johnson & Johnson Innovative Medicine.

Khan also said "We are actively pursuing opportunities to enhance the profitability profile of our entire MedTech portfolio, whether through the integration of artificial intelligence or improvements in our overall infrastructure. Currently, our margin stands above the midpoint compared to our peers, but our goal is to position ourselves toward the upper end of that peer set."

During a recent earnings call, Joe Wolk, executive vice president and CFO, Johnson & Johnson, also expressed the company's commitment to leveraging AI and data science as the driving forces behind their transformation and innovation.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Khan underscored the growing importance of AI and data, and spoke about the need to continuously improve algorithms and computing power to drive the company's transformative initiatives.

The integration of AI in the pharmaceutical industry has ushered in a new era of innovation, reshaping drug discovery and development processes. Companies worldwide have recognized the transformative potential of AI and are actively pursuing strategies to use its capabilities.

About the Author

Sandhya Michu

Sandhya Michu

Senior Assistant Editor - Editorial, ISMG

Michu is an experienced professional with over 10 years of expertise in the ICT industry. She has worked with leading media groups such as Cybermedia, 9.9 media and The Indian Express. Michu's focus areas include enterprise technology and government tech initiatives.

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