Digital health is proving to be a valuable asset for the pharma industry, as it points to a more streamlined and more cost-effective drug development process, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Recent years have seen a large increase in investment towards digital health – a multifaceted segment of the industry that can combine software-based therapies into various aspects of the drug development process.
Rahael Maladwala, Healthcare Analyst at GlobalData, notes: “GlaxoSmithKline recently completed a $43m deal allowing it use Exscientia’s AI platform in the drug discovery process. The digital startup will attempt to use machine learning and specifically designed algorithms to identify molecules in the body that could be potential drug targets, by predicting how they behave under certain conditions. If this method can successfully identify new drug targets, it would reduce the financial burden of pharmaceutical companies for R&D.”
Other uses of technology in healthcare include improvements to the cost-effectiveness of clinical trials. Novartis has launched the first app-based study in multiple sclerosis that allows patients to log symptoms in real time. Meanwhile, Takeda and Lundbeck have begun using apps to monitor patients suffering from depression and how they respond to their prescribed therapies. Wearable technology is also being tested in indications that involve abnormal motor movement, such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy. The most notable examples of these include Empatica’s seizure alerting wristband, and Great Lakes NeuroTechnologies’ Kinesia 360, a sensor-smartphone app combination used to monitor Parkinson’s symptoms.
Maladwala continues: “Moving forward, this technology can be used to link clinical outcomes to real-world patient behavior, and pharma companies can develop novel endpoints – for example related to compliance in a real-world setting – that would not be possible to test in a standard clinical trial.
“As digital health is integrated more and more into the traditional drug development process, there will be challenges that need to be overcome. However, the current trends in this area all point to a more cost-effective drug development process. At a time when payer pressure aims to reduce the financial burden of healthcare for patients, this may prove invaluable for the pharma industry.”