Israeli Pharma Giant and IBM Team Up to Improve Chronic Disease Care

Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, the world’s largest generic medicines producer, and the American computing giant IBM announced on Wednesday that they will expand their global e-Health alliance to “[discover] new treatment options and [improve] chronic disease management,” The Times of Israel reported.

Both initiatives will be hosted on IBM’s Watson Health Cloud in order “to help healthcare organizations derive individualized insights and obtain a more complete picture of the many factors that can affect people’s health” through machine learning, the companies explained in a statement.

Among the goals of the expanded collaboration is to “better target medication for patients, increase effectiveness and lower costs,” utilizing “the increased convergence of drugs discovery and treatments with cognitive computing,” the Times reported.

The two companies specifically plan to engage in a three-year study to systematically repurpose drugs and develop an approach to discover new uses for existing medicines. This will help “streamline the time- and cost-intensive process of bringing new therapies to market,” which can take up to 20 years and cost over $2.5 billion. Nearly a third of the FDA’s approvals in recent years were given to existing drugs to treat new ailments.

If successful, Teva and IBM hope that this approach could be a model for the rest of the pharmaceutical industry. “The process will combine human insight with unique machine-learning algorithms and real-world evidence accessed through the IBM Watson Health Cloud,” they said. “IBM Watson Health Cloud technology will be applied on a massive scale with the aim of revealing previously hidden correlations between a drug molecule and health conditions.”

In June, Teva announced a collaboration with microprocessor maker Intel to track the progress of Huntington’s Disease by “using high-tech devices that combine biology, software and hardware.”

A month earlier, Teva acquired two rivals, putting it on the path to produce “one in six prescriptions in the U.S. … one in six in the UK, one in eight in Germany,” according to CEO Erez Vigodman.

[Photo: Nati Shohat / Flash90 ]