Artificial Intelligence Takes On Big Pharma: These robots can make scientific discoveries faster--and less expensively--than humans.

Author:Foreman, Kelsie
 
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My nose is pressed to the glass as I watch thousands of human cellular samples whisk by, running through a large, elaborate machine. There are lab workers bustling around in neatly pressed lab coats, jotting down notes on their clipboards. It looks like a scene from a futuristic movie. But it's not. This is real life, and the technology in use is poised to change the world of healthcare as we know it.

Fixing drug discovery using AI

"I never wanted to work for a pharmaceutical company," says Amanda Guisbond, the director of corporate communications at Recursion Pharmaceuticals. "I hated the excess. I hated the idea of wasted efficiency." But yet, here she is, fresh-faced, bright-eyed, and leading me around the Recursion office building. "What changed?" I ask. For her, it was simple: "I came to work here because Recursion is different. Unlike the other companies, we are all about fixing those inefficiencies."

Often referred to as "broken, inefficient, and expensive" our healthcare system is one desperately need of innovation. Riddled with expensive problems that require expensive solutions, many are struggling to find the proper care they need at an affordable price. And Big Pharma companies are a huge part of the problem.

According to an article from the Washington Post, 78 percent of the newly patented drugs approved by the USDA correspond to medications already on the market. Essentially, these Big Pharma companies are rebranding (and redistributing) the same medications over and over again to make an easy profit, without actually bringing any new, innovative medications to market.

That being said, it can be hard for pharmaceutical companies to develop any kind of drug innovation at all since it costs so much time and money to do so. On average, it takes about fifteen years and $2.5 billion to fund a new prescription drug and bring it to market. And yet, 95 percent of those drugs will never make it to patients in need, failing their clinical trials in a manner of months. This kind of wasted efficiency, explains Ms. Guisbond, is exactly why many prescription drugs on the market are so expensive.

In order to be profitable, pharmaceutical companies have to make up for that cost by charging more for the medicines that actually work, or re-patenting the same ones over and over again. Americans spend about $1,443 out-of-pocket annually on prescription drugs. That's more than any other developed country in the world--and patients are still...

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