Within the next 10 years, over 50 per cent of approved drugs are expected to involve artificial intelligence (AI) in their development and manufacturing, states the annual report of the Convention on Pharmaceutical Ingredients (CPHI) that was released on Tuesday.
CPHI, a global community for pharmaceutical professionals, predicts that AI would transform all processes in drug development by 2026. Furthermore, by 2030, over 50 per cent of US FDA approvals are anticipated to involve AI-discovered and developed drugs.
The CPHI Report incorporated insights from 250 global pharmaceutical companies from over 35 countries. Markedly, for the first time in the report’s history ‘pharmaceutical AI companies’ (26 per cent) surpassed ‘late-stage’ (20 per cent) and ‘early-stage’ (19 per cent) biotech firms as the most appealing investment option for venture capitalists.
According to the report, the rate of change appears to be accelerating significantly, with 62 per cent of respondents forecasting that the FDA would approve the first fully AI-discovered and developed drug therapy within the next five years, and 20 per cent believing this milestone could be achieved in less than two years. Looking further ahead to 2030, over half (52 per cent) of new drugs approved are expected to be discovered or developed using AI.
“The tools we have today to evaluate genetic material and protein structures are tremendous. As we gather data, the models we use for evaluation within AI will improve, and our criteria and insight will become more refined, allowing us to design and direct evaluation models more efficiently. We are very near to seeing AI-discovered molecules getting approved today—definitely within the next two to five years. In the next decade, it is likely that most drug therapies will be identified by some element of AI,” said Bikash Chatterjee, CPHI Report expert and Chief Science Officer at Pharmatech Associates, a USP Company.
Highlighting AI’s evolution and its expected far-reaching medium-term impact across the pharmaceutical industry, the report predicted that it would play a central role in all four of the top-ranked technologies set to break into ‘routine use’ by pharma by 2026.
Additionally, lower costs are anticipated as clinical trial designs improve alongside in silico modelling and manufacturing efficiencies, with even clinical trial patient recruitment benefiting from AI’s ability to analyse massive datasets. While AI’s role in target discovery (60+ per cent) and manufacturing optimisation (52 per cent) remain the most favoured applications, nearly 43 per cent believe it will also assist in building base regulatory submissions.
“Adoption will be fastest, initially, for drug discovery, as there are no Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) or compliance requirements. Given the poor success rate of drugs that make it to market, even a modest improvement would be a significant advancement,” Chatterjee added.
The initial segment of the report indicates that technology has brought about a transformative impact on all aspects of drug discovery and development in the last two years. Despite the recent tapering of enthusiasm surrounding technologies like ChatGPT and other generative AIs, real-world applications in the pharmaceutical sector are steadily on the rise, the report notes.
“There is no doubt that AI will change ways of working in pharma. We are now seeing AI used not only to further improve target discovery but also to deliver step-change improvements in manufacturing, process efficiencies, and clinical trials. In as little as two years, our experts predict that many companies will have been left behind, with Contract Development and Manufacturing Organizations (CDMOs) having a great incentive to pivot quickly to keep pace with the expectations of their big pharma customers,” said Tara Dougal, Content Director–Pharma at Informa Markets, a global platform that specialises in offering business-to-business (B2B) information services, events, exhibitions, and market intelligence across various industries. It is the organiser of the upcoming CPHI Barcelona 2023 event scheduled for October.
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