An increasing number of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies utilize artificial intelligence technology in developing new drugs.

Daewoong Pharmaceutical, Hanmi Pharmaceutical and other Korean drug companies are rushing to utilize artificial intelligence (AI) to develop new medicines as the technology significantly shortens the time required for their development.

They said it usually takes more than 10 years to go through the process to develop new drugs. It also requires large-scale funding, but the success rate is low.

Once a company succeeds in developing a new drug after passing the laborious process, it creates an enormous amount of profits.

Companies have recently started increasing their investments into R&D and utilizing AI as the technology contributes to reducing the time required for collecting and analyzing clinical data and carrying out a feasibility study.

“Most pharmaceutical companies here spare no expense to make investments into R&D and expand manufacturing facilities to explore future growth engines,” an official from a Seoul-based pharmaceutical company said.

She said AI can search for and analyze hundreds of research papers and various data in a day.

Daewoong Pharmaceutical has operated an AI research team tasked with exploring candidate drugs for certain health problems since 2014.

Last year, the firm formed an industry-university collaboration with Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) in a bid to apply big data and AI technology to the new drug development system.

“We plan to invest 70.5 billion won ($62 million) to build a Connected Collaboration & Development (C&D) Center in Magok, Seoul, by July 2023,” an official from Daewoong Pharmaceutical said.

At C&D Center, the firm will carry out various studies including AI-based research.

Hanmi Pharmaceutical has focused its efforts on collecting clinical data through Medidata specializing in AI-based platform that brings data managers, clinical operations, investigators and patients together to accelerate the science and business of research.

Hanmi Pharmaceutical invested 192.8 billion won in R&D last year, according to the firm’s business report.

For its part, biopharmaceutical firm Samsung Bioepis plans to spend 180.4 billion won to build a new R&D center. The firm said investment cost accounts for 36.44 percent of the company’s capital at the end of 2017.

The government is also active in supporting the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare said Tuesday that the government will invest 477.9 billion won in nurturing the industry after investing 432.4 billion won last year.

The ministry said among the funding, 10.3 billion won will be used to helping companies establish a new drug development platform powered by AI and set up smart infrastructure for clinical studies.

“The pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry is the core of the nation’s future industries creating jobs and additional value,” Health and Welfare Minister Park Neung-hoo said.

Give it a share: