IT has the power to transform the pharmaceutical industry

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Information technology has the power to transform the pharmaceutical industry, if businesses apply it correctly. That’s the conclusion of Pharma 2010: Silicon Reality, a report from IBM Business Consulting Services (BCS).

According to the report, if the pharmaceutical industry applies technology properly to change its current business model it can:

• Slice drug development costs by 75 percent
• Trim drug development times by nine years
• Improve development and manufacturing processes
• Deliver bigger shareholder returns

The report enumerates several technologies key to bringing about these changes. For example, petaflop and grid computing will give the industry unparalleled levels of computing power. By 2006, new super computers will enable drug companies to simulate biomolecular studies, while grid computing will make possible real time matching of DNA sequences and analysis of sales and marketing data. Meanwhile, sophisticated computer-generated models that simulate how a biological system works as a whole, called predictive biosimulation, will reduce hands-on “wet lab” experiments.

Outside the lab, pervasive computing – miniaturized individual tracking devices, mobile telephones, and wireless technologies – will allow companies to collect data from patients or even manage their health, all remotely. Similarly, radio frequency identification (RFID) tags can track objects through manufacturing and distribution, both to improve efficiency and to meet the latest government regulations for supply chain monitoring. And, process analytical technology (PAT) lets companies continuously and automatically monitor manufacturing processes in real time. That means improved manufacturing quality and cost savings, because it is cheaper to adjust a production line immediately than to discard sub-par goods.

Faced with an increasing deluge of information, drug companies will mine the Web on a massive scale using advanced text analytics to scan the digital information as soon as it becomes available. These tools will also help the companies make sense of the information, facilitating industry research and other activities. Increasing complex regulations will require advanced storage solutions that will also give pharmaceutical firms the wherewithal to store massive amounts of data from research, manufacturing and other areas.

“Now is the time for the industry to capitalize on the huge scientific achievements of the genomic era. To do that, companies needs to invest in new technologies which will truly drive breakthrough growth and help them to differentiate themselves,” said Steve Arlington, Global Pharmaceutical Industry Leader, IBM BCS.

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The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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