Digitalisation, Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence has transformed the pharmaceutical industry. From understanding diseases, diagnosis, and manufacturing medicines to clinical trials, it has provided a great helping hand to pharma companies expressed Dr Umesh Shetty, Director, AXIS Multispeciality Hospital and Senior Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mumbai in conversation with Kaanchi Chawla of Elets News Network (ENN). Edited excerpts:
With the growing technology penetration in the industry, what are the trends and innovations taking place in the Indian pharmaceutical industry?
We can’t deny the fact that covid has opened up new opportunities and innovations, taking place in the Indian pharmaceutical industry. In meeting the challenges faced by covid, the pharma industry started various trends and innovations regularly which helped them gather pace in the future. It was seen that many Indian firms came up with different COVID-19 vaccines under the national Covid-19 immunisation program and once it was approved, vaccines were not only given to Indian people but also exported to different countries which contributed to the economy of the country, hence boosting Indian Pharmaceutical industry. The biggest change that the pharma industry saw was everything going online, from consultations to ordering medicines. Everyone was worried about their safety and therefore opted for online options rather than being physically present at the store or in the hospital. This eventually led to having teleconsultations as an option post-covid as well. This practice was also supported by the government by providing the necessary push required. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning gave a shift to the innovation pattern of the pharma sectors. The Pharma industry around the world has started using AI tools and advanced machine learning rules to facilitate their process. This led to the creation of more affordable drugs and reduced operational costs.
What are the factors driving the growth of the Indian pharma industry?
The Covid-19 pandemic caused various problems for people around the globe. Despite it hitting hard, the pharma sectors turned the crisis into an opportunity. The demand for vaccines along with saving the lives of people became strong, and this led to various innovations in the pharma sector and India became the largest provider of medicines across the world at the most affordable prices. This eventually helped in boosting the Indian pharma sector. The world has started looking up to India for affordable and best-quality medicines. The government also played a very important role in the growth of the Indian pharma industry. It provided all the necessary push required for boosting the production of medicines. India has become one the largest producers of low-cost drugs without compromising on the quality of the medicines.
Artificial Intelligence is becoming popular across all industries. Do you think AI is playing an imperative role in the pharma sector? If yes, how?
Since the covid hit the world, Artificial Intelligence has started playing a very important role in the pharmaceutical industry. From understanding diseases, diagnosis, and manufacturing medicines to clinical trials, Artificial Intelligence has provided a great helping hand to pharma companies. It has played a very crucial role during the pandemic to discover vaccines. It has helped in improving the manufacturing process by producing low-cost medicines without compromising on quality in less duration. It makes the production process faster and ensures less waste of material. Artificial Intelligence also helps in designing the drugs and reducing the time taken during drug trials for approval, hence reaching the market early along with saving the cost, and therefore, patients can get medicines at a lower cost. During the pandemic, finding patients for the trial of drugs and vaccines was a task. However, finding a fit candidate for trials was made easier through Artificial Intelligence.
Cloud technology facilitates pharmaceutical companies to enhance data integrity. With the rapid rise of technology across all other industries, do you think cloud technology will support the growth of the pharmaceutical industry?
There has been a huge rise in using cloud technology since the pandemic. They have started adopting cloud technology for various research and development. However, pharma companies do not adopt any technologies without proper study to protect the safety and security of the products. Clinical trials and communication have been made easier and quicker after using cloud technologies. Earlier, it required a large amount of time and with the adoption of cloud technologies, the tasks are performed in real-time. It has made it easier for the pharma industry to operate and communicate from any location to any part of the world. It ensures safe and secure data and can be accessed from any location at their fingertips. The drugs reach the market more quickly and safely after the adoption of cloud technologies. As far as security and privacy are concerned, the cloud is best for storing data. It is not only limited to storing data but acts as a great problem solver during crises due to its privacy and security.
Digitalisation, Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence accelerate transforming the pharmaceutical industry and enable companies to improve drug development and patient care. How are healthcare demands and new technologies transforming the pharma industry?
As compared to 10-15 years back, pharmaceutical industries have seen a huge growth in the sector due to the new technologies coming up. Digital transformation has led to transforming thoughts in medical professionals regarding the medical world. People have become more aware and concerned about their health and the way they live. Digital transformation has made connecting with professionals easier than ever. Earlier patients used to completely rely on their doctors for treatment. With digitalisation, people first learn of their symptoms and then consult the doctor. Now, they are more aware of the products and their side effects. Artificial Intelligence is a new concept but has been adopted by many pharma companies during the pandemic. Using Big Data analytics, where massive volumes of information pertaining to the patients, doctors, hospitals, treatment, response to the treatment, and deep insights into the pharma co-logical issues, the companies have been able to present better solutions for the world.
Production Linked Incentives Scheme (PLI) Scheme boosts domestic manufacturing and attracts large investments in medical devices. How are PLI schemes transforming the pharma industry?
PLI Scheme has helped the pharma industry in manufacturing high-tech products and has also created a large employment opportunity for the citizens of India. It has made medicines available to us at an affordable price and has attracted large investments in medical devices. Production Linked Incentives Scheme has also reduced the dependency of Indian Pharma on other countries.