• Contact Us

PING 2024 explores AI's transformative impact in pharma at annual Conference

on Tuesday, 18 June 2024.

VWV's PING (Pharmaceutical Industry Network Group) has celebrated 15 years of cutting-edge pharma conferences, this year focusing on the pressing issue of 'AI in pharma - Threat or opportunity?'.

PING 2024

On Monday 10 June, VWV, in partnership with Russell Strategy Partners, welcomed over 130 delegates to Knebworth Barns, in the shadows of the science park at Stevenage, for an insightful exploration into the rapidly growing role of artificial intelligence in the pharmaceuticals.

The rise of Large Language Models like ChatGPT over the past two years has ignited imaginations across various sectors, and the pharmaceuticals and life sciences sector is no exception. The conference, featuring seven exciting sessions, delved into the threats and opportunities AI presents across every aspect of the pharmaceutical ecosystem.

Paul Gershlick, VWV Partner and Head of the Pharmaceuticals and Life Sciences sector as well as Chair of PING, said "PING once again had a great buzz, with people from right across the pharma ecosystem from early-stage R&D through to supply of finished products coming together to help and learn from each other.  This year's set of presenters on AI gave incredible insight into the future of pharma - except the future is here!"

The conference was, again, supported with ongoing sponsorship from Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership reflecting the region's pivotal role in the UK's life sciences sector. Adrian Hawkins OBE, Chair at Hertfordshire LEP, commented "Hertfordshire LEP is delighted again to sponsor PING for the 11th year. Hertfordshire’s life science sector is driving the UK economy and conferences of this calibre attest to its growing importance. The theme this year is particularly topical, and key industry figures provided thought-provoking discussions and valuable insights for the life sciences businesses."

Discussions were kick started by subject expert Dr. Andree Bates, CEO of Eularis, with a compelling presentation on the current AI landscape in pharma, addressing how AI is reshaping business models, as well as threats from Big Tech and risks such as with data inaccuracy and data bias. Following this, a panel discussion showcased pioneers in drug discovery and repurposing using AI with representatives of BenevolentAI, Healx, Ignota Labs and Charles River Laboratories.

VWV Partner Harry Jennings provided a legal update, looking at whether the use of AI was even legal and who owns the outputs. He addressed copyright infringement questions in Large Language Models, data protection, product liability, and the pace of legal adaptations to AI advancements. Harry stated, "There are so many unanswered questions with the law trying to keep up with the rapid pace of technological developments. We will continue to explore issues we touched on in the 2024 PING conference in the "Make Me Intelligent" series."

Later, Dr. Sola Adeleke, Founder of Curenetics, and Sonya May, Senior Paralegal at VWV, discussed how AI can predict accurate treatments and pathways for patients. Sola noted, "A really personalised medicine approach has remained elusive for many years. AI could bring us one step closer.”

The conference also addressed the use of AI to address healthcare disparities and minimise regional health inequalities. Dr. Rav Seeruthun, CEO of health-equity.ai, shared insights on leveraging AI to enhance healthcare equity, turning one of the issues with AI on its head - AI perpetuating bias.

The two final presentations looked at insight around finished products. Philip Ashton, CEO at 7bridges, highlighted strategies to improve knowledge, reduce costs, and enhance supply chain efficiency through AI. James Turnbull, Founder of Camino Communications, discussed maximising market and product data using AI, stating, "It was great to be a part of PING and demonstrate how generative AI can be used to help pharma distil large amounts of content into succinct insights, providing a competitive advantage."

Referring to a recent McKinsey report that highlighted the opportunities of up to US$110 billion a year for the sector in adopting AI, the conference demonstrated the rapid nature of the development of AI in pharma and reinforced the opportunities arising out of utilising the potential of the technology to move forward at a rate previously considered impossible, as well as the threats.