AI to Develop and Bring New Drugs to Market Faster


Artificial intelligence could cut down the time it takes to develop and bring new drugs to the market, according to the National Academy of Medicine and the Government Accountability Office.

In order for that to happen the United States must address legal and policy impediments that inhibit the collection and sharing of high-quality medical data among researchers.

“Machine learning holds tremendous potential in drug development,” according to the two-part report released Tuesday. How long? According to the report, machine learning could cut down the current time of about 10 to 15 years it takes to develop and bring a new drug to market and save between $300 million and $400 million per successful drug. “In drug discovery, researchers are using [machine learning] to identify new drug targets, screen known compounds for new therapeutic applications, and design new drug candidates, among other applications.”

The first part of the report, prepared by the National Academy of Medicine, is titled “Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare: the Hope, the Hype, the Promise, the Peril.” The second part, prepared by the GAO, is called “Artificial Intelligence in Health Care: Benefits and Challenges of Machine Learning in Drug Development.”

Annual U.S. health care spending is set to reach about $6 trillion by 2027, with the federal portion of spending on health care programs, which account for a quarter of the national costs, growing faster than the overall economy. The report found that the application of artificial intelligence technologies could help identify new treatments, reduce failure rates in hospitals and result in more efficient and effective drug development.

Artificial intelligence-based tools can soon begin assisting patients with chronic conditions, the National Academy of Medicine said, describing some of the emerging applications of such technologies both for consumers and health care providers. New devices could help patients with heart disease, diabetes or depression, and with taking their medications, modifying their diet, wound care and injections, the academy said.

The report said startup companies with a focus on health and medicine have raised $4.3 billion to develop so-called smart clothing such as bras that can predict breast cancer risk and other clothes that can assess cardiac and lung conditions based on movement. In hospitals, clinicians are testing whether artificial intelligence technologies would allow them to personalize chemotherapy dosing — a kind of precision medicine that’s tailored to each patient.


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