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Bayer looks to leverage AI across the pharma value chain

Dieter Weinand outlines his hopes for applying artificial intelligence

Bayer

Bayer has already shown more than a passing interest in artificial intelligence through its digital accelerator programme Grants4Apps, but the company’s use of the technology looks to be more wide-ranging and deep-seated than that.

Talking to journalists after the company’s Financial News Conference late last month in Leverkusen, Germany, the president of Bayer Pharma Dieter Weinand spoke of his hopes for AI.

The company is, he said, “all over this”, having already collaborated with the likes of Verily, the life sciences unit at Google parent company Alphabet, and IBM’s Watson and Deep Blue.

“We’re looking into all these areas across the entire value chain, from R&D all the way to commercial.”

Spearheading some of this work is Bayer’s LifeScience iHub, a Silicon Valley-based innovation centre set up in 2015 to focus on developing new digital solutions.

Weinand added: “I believe that artificial intelligence will make a huge difference with analytics - I can envision modelling of clinical trials in outcomes with artificial intelligence that would allow you therefore to significantly more focus your clinical trials, make them smaller, faster and less costly.

“I can see artificial intelligence in diagnosis. IBM Watson has a 90% correct diagnosis of lung cancer and the best [clinicians] in the world have 50%, so you can see that artificial intelligence, computer-aided diagnosis will significantly enhance outcomes.”

Trust and a fact-driven approach to technology

Bayer’s Leverkusen conference also featured a keynote address by chairman of the board of management Werner Baumann, in which he took issue with society’s lack of trust.

“We live in an era of distrust in which facts are less and less important. We see that the current debate is often based on an emotional appeal to people’s fears rather than on communicating facts. Fear has become a business model.

“But when there is no trust and no certainty, what can we base our decisions on? We all have an interest in ensuring that the course we set for our future is not overly pollicised. This applies not jus to legislation, but also to the registration of products and of the way society views new technologies.”

He concluded: “Such decisions should be based on scientific findings, thus validated findings. We have to be able to trust that this will be the case: in the interests of consumers and in the interests of economic and social progress.

21st March 2018

From: Research

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