Side effects and drug costs deter patients, AI can help

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Carl Foster, Standigm

Side effects and drug costs deter patients, AI can help

By Carl Foster

Soaring costs, weak efficacy, and debilitating side effects are stopping Americans from getting their drugs. Among other popular initiatives such as patient education, drug discount vouchers, and patient hubs, personalized medicine is an additional strategy that holds promise for medication adherence.

Can recent breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI) accelerate the development of personalized medicine?

Recent reports show that more than a third of Americans have skipped filling prescription medications because of cost. While cost is a major inhibiting factor for those who need medication, there are also a myriad of other reasons people elect not to fill their prescriptions. 

One major additional reason for weak or non-compliance with a prescription is because patients don’t notice a difference when taking the medication. This is especially true in the cases of asymptomatic silent diseases such as high cholesterol, diseases difficult to diagnose, or newly emerging illnesses. Another consideration is when the patient would rather live with the disease than deal with side effects from treatments. 

With new technologies, pharmaceutical companies can use personalized medicine to more precisely target a patient’s condition, increase efficacy, reduce side effects, and ultimately lower overall drug costs. Personalized medicine takes many forms and is a multi-step process that includes everything from developing new diagnostic tools, finding new drug targets, designing drugs that more specifically address the target, and specialized clinical trials that not only address the primary disease population, but also subsets of patients. 

AI comes in at the very beginning stages of personalized medicine. If we can use AI to not only diagnose disease better, discover new drugs on the molecular level, but to also match the right drug with the right patient, everyone wins. Patient compliance with therapy will increase when they feel the treatments are more specific to their own condition, effective, and with fewer side effects. Every patient has the right to the best care, and finding the optimal drug for their individual needs is a critical part of health care.

Carl Foster is chief business officer at Standigm.