IBM and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries have announced a significant expansion of their existing global e-Health alliance with a focus on two key healthcare challenges: the discovery of new treatment options and improving chronic disease management. Both projects will run on the IBM Watson Health Cloud.
The expanded partnership features a new, three-year research collaboration to develop cognitive technologies that can enable a systematic approach to the emerging field of drug repurposing and deliver unprecedented scale in the discovery of new uses for existing drugs. The companies also announced that respiratory and central nervous system (CNS) diseases will be the first targets for their chronic disease management initiative, which will be the first project to integrate data from The Weather Company (an IBM Business) into the analysis. The joint work in chronic disease management emerges from Teva’s existing alliance with IBM as a Foundational Life Sciences Partner for the IBM Watson Health Cloud.
Professor Yitzhak Peterburg, Teva’s chairman of the board of directors, said, “Teva’s products reach 200 million people every day with the world's largest medicine cabinet. We have the opportunity to lead change in the pharmaceutical industry, innovating constantly to meet consumers' evolving needs. By combining the skills of our partners, such as Watson's cognitive computing capabilities, with Teva's pharmaceutical expertise, we can create novel solutions and deliver real value to people.”
“Working together, Teva and IBM create an unprecedented opportunity to help doctors and patients worldwide achieve the promise of personalized healthcare,” said Deborah DiSanzo, general manager for IBM Watson Health. “IBM and Teva’s announcements today are notable for two reasons. First, IBM’s work with Teva extends from the biopharmaceutical research bench to an individual’s medicine cabinet—underscoring the power of Watson cognitive computing across life sciences and healthcare. Second, this work includes the first integration of data from The Weather Company with the Watson Health Cloud, a milestone and demonstrable of how the definition of ‘health data’ is evolving.”
A Systematic Approach to Discovering New Uses for Existing Drugs
Thirty percent of regulatory approvals by the FDA in recent years have been for new uses of previously approved drugs and vaccines1. A repurposing approach to drug discovery and development is intended to streamline the time- and cost-intensive process of bringing new therapies to market, which can take the industry up to 20 years and cost in excess of $2.5 billion. Medicines that have regulatory clearance have been comprehensively tested, resulting in known safety and efficacy profiles which may significantly reduce the drug development burden. New uses, formulations and delivery innovations for previously approved medicines have the potential to come to market quickly and efficiently and address unmet medical needs.
Currently, the discovery of new therapeutic uses for existing medicines is largely the result of serendipitous findings or isolated research. The aim of the new collaboration between Teva and IBM Research is to design, build, and deploy a systematic process for drug repurposing, potentially becoming a blueprint for use across the industry. The process will combine human insight with unique machine-learning algorithms and real-world evidence accessed through the IBM Watson Health Cloud. 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.
“Teva is a leader in innovation using existing molecules and IBM has pioneered Watson cognitive computing—it is a natural partnership,” said Michael Hayden, Teva's president of Global R&D and chief scientific officer. “This collaboration will bring together the science and the technology to scale up ‘serendipity’ to an industrial level, opening up new and exciting possibilities to create novel treatments for patients based on existing medicines.”
“There is so much data out there that is currently underutilized, yet has the potential to significantly inform drug repurposing. Eighty percent of all health data is invisible to current technology systems because it’s unstructured,” said Ajay Royyuru, IBM fellow and director of Healthcare & Life Sciences for IBM Research. “Using cognitive technologies to mine this data could reveal novel therapies for diseases that desperately need tackling. By teaming up with Teva, our belief is we will gain insights that can lead pharmaceutical companies to develop new medicines that benefit patients worldwide.”
Empowering Doctors and Patients to Manage Chronic Diseases
Chronic diseases present a global burden, both on patients and on our healthcare systems. Widespread chronic diseases, like asthma, which is estimated to impact 400 million people around the world by 2025, remain uncontrolled in many patients despite decades of availability to proven medications. Many people living with asthma, for example, still experience uncontrolled symptoms and frequent attacks—often due to incorrect inhaler use or poor adherence to treatment. The need exists for therapeutic solutions that enable a systematic, comprehensive approach to help people take control of their health conditions.
To address the global impact of chronic diseases, Teva and IBM reveal, for the first time, that they are working together on an initiative that combines Teva’s therapeutic technologies with IBM Watson’s cognitive computing. Together, the companies aim to enable patients, healthcare providers, and payers to better understand and control chronic conditions, and track treatments.
The chronic disease management collaboration will combine cloud-connected drug delivery and app technology with more than six billion data points processed by Watson to provide actionable insights, including the first-ever integration of data from The Weather Company. Using Watson’s cognitive processing capabilities and newly developed algorithms these data may be used to calculate the prospective risk of health events, such as an asthma attack, with Teva delivering that information directly to caregivers and their patients via an app or other software interface.
“Teva envisions a future where we can empower patients and their families to better understand diseases, like asthma, and cope with health challenges in a more systematic, data-driven manner, with the ability to be proactive, rather than reactive,” said Rob Koremans, M.D., president and CEO of Teva Global Specialty Medicines. “In doing so, we aim to cut treatment costs by providing patients, payers, healthcare providers and caregivers with relatable data that can inform action and insights into a patient’s total disease management plan.”
The IBM Watson Health Cloud is a health-data enabled platform-as-a-service. It provides a foundation for cognitive offerings and is designed to help healthcare organizations derive individualized insights and obtain a more complete picture of the many factors that can affect people’s health. Teva’s use of the IBM Watson Health Cloud will comply with operational and security requirements for health data.