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Is Quantum Computing Pharma’s Next Big Disruptor?

By IQT News posted 31 Dec 2020

(PharmaceuticalTechnology) One industry where quantum computers are often seen to have a lot of promise is pharma. In turn, pharma, and the wider life sciences industry, has demonstrated interest in exploring ways that quantum computers could drive efficiencies and optimise processes. In a future-casting 2030 vision report, life sciences membership organisation Pistoia Alliance examined technological opportunities that might impact the pharma industry’s efficiency, and quantum computing was clearly identified.
To support this initiative, Pistoia teamed up with Quantum Economic Development Consortium (QED-C), which was created in 2018 by the US Government as part of the National Quantum Initiative, and QuPharm, a pre-competitive collaboration of pharma companies interested in identifying use cases for quantum computing in the life science field.
How precisely could quantum computing transform and drive efficiencies for the pharma industry? The primary use is expected to involve accelerating the discovery, as well as research and development (R&D), of new drugs. Pistoia Alliance’s survey found that 82% of participants thought drug discovery and development would be the first to benefit from computing advancements.
The ability to improve and accelerate drug discovery through quantum computing has the potential to drastically cut the often prohibitively high costs of bringing a drug to market, as well as reduce time to market. It is currently estimated to take an average of ten years and $2bn to discover, develop and commercialise a therapy.
The promise of quantum computing in life sciences does not end with drug R&D. Quantum computing might have early promise in supply chain, manufacturing and financial risk optimisation problems – an area fairly disconnected from traditional R&D.
Quantum computing is “just one facet of the digital transformation that the pharma industry is going through”; it will not act to replace these other digital tools, notes Roach. In fact, the Pistoia Alliance’s 2030 vision report argues that quantum computing will actually revolutionise and drive advancements in ML and big data analysis.

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