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France-based pharma giant Sanofi is teaming up with Google to use the tech giant’s AI and cloud-computing tools in a new Innovation Lab, per Bio Space. The goal of the partnership is threefold: to speed up drug discovery, maximize operational flows, and improve the patient experience.
Using AI to streamline complex and costly processes is a budding trend within the pharma industry.
- Pharma giants are rushing to get a hold of AI. Eli Lilly struck a $560 million deal with San Francisco-based AI developer Atomwise — which also holds partnerships with Merck and AbbVie — to accelerate drug discovery earlier this month, and AstraZeneca tied up with UK-based BenevolentAI in May. It makes sense for pharma companies to lean on tech that makes drug development more efficient: Drug makers shell out $2.6 billion to develop a new prescription medication and bring it to market, up from the $1 billion it cost in the early 2000s.
- And pharma’s demand for AI has created a doorway for tech players to slide into the health space. Big names in innovation have forged deals with pharma companies: Verily linked up with Novartis, Sanofi, Otsuka, and Pfizer last month to streamline clinical trials. And IBM Watson boasts partnerships with Sanofi, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer for its drug discovery program, but halted the program’s advancement in April.
We’ll likely see more pharma companies tap digital health tech to ease the strain on revenue stemming from government scrutiny.Pharma companies might feel more pressure than ever to invest in tech that provides a financial cushion since the government is kicking efforts to up transparency and slim drug price tags into high gear.
For example, the HHS unleashed a rule last month that will force pharma companies to list drug prices on TV ads come July. And it’s clear these companies are feeling the heat: In response, Eli Lilly, Amgen, and Merck slammedthe Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services with a lawsuit last week, per The Wall Street Journal.
And they’re pouring more cash into lobbying efforts, which is a trend we expect to continue: Drug makers spent $70 million on lobbying efforts in 2018, marking the second highest spending year on record after 2009 when they doled out $87 million in the wake of the Affordable Care Act, per Market Watch.
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