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A focused professional is explaining a project to a team at the boardroom at enterprise. GenAI for pharmaceuticals

Pharma companies are jumping on the GenAI train

The pharmaceutical industry has a history of aggressive adoption of new technology.  Generative AI (GenAI) is proving to be no exception.

A survey by one leading IT advisory firm found that life sciences companies collectively have the highest intention to adopt GenAI in 2024 of any industry they evaluated.

What McKinsey says about generative AI in pharma

In addition, strategy consultant McKinsey projects that GenAI applied just for research and early discovery of new drugs will produce between $15 billion-$28 billion in value annually for pharmas.  (Across the full spectrum of pharma industry activities, including all business functions and participants, McKinsey places GenAI’s annual value at between $60 billion-$110 billion!)

One use case McKinsey describes that falls under the “research and early discovery” umbrella is extracting scientific knowledge:

“To better understand disease and drug targets, scientists spend much time extracting and summarizing information in documents such as patents, scientific publications, and trial data. That is not only arduous but also often provides incomplete or inaccurate information, given the sheer volume of data that must be processed. [GenAI]-powered knowledge extraction — which uses AI algorithms to analyze unstructured data, including text, images, and other forms of information – can alleviate this burden.”

What BCG says about generative AI in the pharmaceutical industry

Another global strategy consultancy, BCG, regards knowledge management as the most viable use case for GenAI in the pharma industry.

BCG: Generative AI Use Cases, Sorted by their Potential Value and Technical Feasibility

BCG: Generative AI Use Cases, Sorted by their Potential Value and Technical Feasibility

Northern Light’s experience supports these firms’ projections.  We have seen tremendous interest among our pharma clients to deploy generative AI-based question answering in their SinglePoint™ market and competitive intelligence knowledge management platforms.  They regard GenAI as a mechanism to jump-start a user’s literature research, delivering the equivalent of a more informative and on-point search result.

Reliable GenAI in pharma starts with rigorous content curation

One of the keys to implementing an effective GenAI capability within an enterprise application like knowledge management is to limit the content that machine-generated answers are based on to a well-vetted collection of authoritative internal and external research and news documents, rather than unverified internet content.  Using Retrieval Augmented Generation (RAG) virtually eliminates GenAI’s “hallucination” problem.

McKinsey touches on the topic of data integrity when it advises pharma leaders:

“A multipronged approach will be necessary to create a data infrastructure that can run internal and external data sets.  This is more than a purely technical matter: data scientists will need to collaborate closely with leaders in business strategy, medical affairs, and legal and risk to set priorities and execute strategies.”

In other words, each organization should engage a multi-disciplinary team of subject matter experts to carefully define which data GenAI accesses and for what purposes.

In the case of a knowledge management system for market and competitive intelligence, those data sources may include market research conducted by the company (using either internal or contracted resources), syndicated market intelligence research and analysis that the company licenses from third-party services, government and industry databases, authoritative business news sources, and other vetted content collections.

As BCG reports on its recent survey of pharma executives, “The results confirmed the firms’ strong interest in GenAI use cases but also reinforced the importance of making smart portfolio choices from the start.”  Northern Light’s pharma clients have made market and competitive intelligence an early GenAI portfolio choice, and it is starting to pay handsome dividends.

How Northern Light helps to power the future of pharma R&D

As pharma companies increasingly board the GenAI train, the journey ahead is ripe with opportunities for enhanced operational efficiencies, cost savings, and exciting new drug discoveries.  Northern Light is part of this transformative journey, offering cutting-edge tools that empower our clients to harness the full potential of market and competitive intelligence, in part through the effective use of GenAI. Our SinglePoint market and competitive intelligence knowledge management platform is used by many leading pharmaceutical developers to accelerate research and informed decision-making. The convergence of technological innovation with strategic vision is not just a promise—it’s a reality we’re building together with our pharma clients, paving the way for a new era of pharmaceutical breakthroughs.

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