IBM and Teva Pharmaceutical To Increase Cooperation On New Medications

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IBM and Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Ltd have announced plans for the two companies to increase their existing global e-Health alliance.

The announcement was made Wednesday at the World of Watson conference currently underway in Las Vegas by Professor Yitzhak Peterburg, Teva’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, alongside IBM Chairman, President and CEO Ginni Rometty. “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, ” said Professor Peterburg.

So the world’s most famous computer company, IBM, and one of its biggest Pharmaceutical firms, Teva, say that they will focus on dealing with two key healthcare challenges. The first is the discovery of new treatment options and the other is the improvement of chronic disease management. Both projects will run on the IBM Watson Health Cloud.

The companies point out that as many as 400 million people worldwide are expected to suffer from some sort of chronic disease by the year 2025.

The IBM Watson Health Cloud is a health-data enabled platform-as-a-service. IBM boasts that 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 states that its use of the IBM Watson Health Cloud will comply with operational and security requirements for health data.

Sometimes advancements are made when a medication which was developed to treat a specific disease if found to also help in the treatment of another. Sometimes great advances in medicine and science are the result of accidents. That is, after all, how penicillin was created.

But advances in medicine have left people with a false sense that everything will soon be treatable and that all disease will soon be eradicated. Unfortunately, this is far from the case. But at least the proliferation of medical websites and apps has made access to important medical information much easier to lay people and can help with the all important early diagnosis of disease.

“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.”

So will this Teva and IBM alliance lead to a cure for the world’s worst diseases in the near future? Maybe not, but it is certainly going to speed up the process of medical research.

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