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Generative AI’s Breakthrough Potential in Pharma Marketing

Pharmaceutical ExecutivePharmaceutical Executive: March 2023
Volume 43
Issue 3

How platforms like ChatGPT could transform engagement models.

With the advent of generative artificial intelligence (AI) technology, it’s an exciting time for businesses looking to harness the power of machine learning to drive growth and innovation. One industry that stands to benefit significantly from generative AI is the pharmaceutical industry, where sales and marketing teams are using AI-powered tools to create more effective and personalized content for their customers. By leveraging natural language processing and other AI capabilities, pharma companies can better understand the needs and preferences of their target audiences, leading to more engaging and effective sales and marketing strategies. While there are ethical considerations to keep in mind, the potential for generative AI to transform the industry is a promising development for businesses and consumers alike.

The above introductory paragraph was composed by ChatGPT (generative pre-trained transformer), a playful neural network-based model that has been pre-trained on massive amounts of text data and can generate human-like responses to natural language input. I used a simple two-sentence prompt to instruct the large language model to write an introductory paragraph for my column. “Whole prompt engineering” is something you should immediately familiarize yourself with.

I also asked it to provide a guarantee that it wouldn’t take my job, and it pleasantly assured me in three paragraphs (a bit indulgent) that it didn’t intend to replace me, only to assist me. I pictured it nodding its GPT head at me, lulling me into agreement.

Steve Jobs once said, “Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity—not a threat.”1 He’s right to a degree, and I admire the quote. But like any life-changing technological breakthrough, there are risks involved, seen and unseen. For now, we’re going to forego a risk conversation and pessimistic musings like generative AI making a unilateral decision to not only train itself but to find its way into one of those Boston Dynamics robots. No thanks.

Embrace the wave & pay attention to market

In all seriousness, do not look at this as a passing fad. At the end of January, Reuters reported ChatGPT reached an estimated 100 million active monthly users, which was only two months after its Nov. 30 launch.2 According to a UBS bank research note, this makes it the “fastest-growing consumer application in history.”2 To provide context, TikTok took nine months to reach 100 million monthly users.2 In a year that included crypto crashes and mass tech layoffs, Open AI served up a stroke of masterclass marketing by allowing users to test, train, and work with ChatGPT. The result was an impressive user base, truckloads of earned media, and a new brand’s immediate association with fun, helpful, cutting-edge innovation. On Jan. 23, Microsoft announced a multiyear, multibillion-dollar investment in OpenAI, which is its third investment following previous infusions in 2021 and 2019. Those investments attached OpenAI to Microsoft’s cloud service Azure as its exclusive provider.

The floodgates have opened. The AI war has begun.

Google had to answer. On Feb. 6, the company introduced Bard, their response to Open AI’s ChatGPT. Probably a bit rushed, Bard failed on a first-day demo, causing investors to sell $100 billion worth of Alphabet stock in response.

Get to the point

Right, sales and marketing. The uses are seemingly innumerable. First and foremost, in a 2019 article, recent podcast guest Faruk Capan, CEO of EVERSANA INTOUCH and chief innovation officer of EVERSANA, mentioned the concept of R.E.A.L. (recurring, exempt from risk, agonizingly slow, or loathsome)—tasks of the ilk that can be handled by AI to free up time for team members to do what they do best.

Beyond that base benefit, for a list of others that highlight AI’s potential for sales and marketing efforts in the industry, please view the infographic below.

Fran Pollaro is Pharm Exec's senior editor and can be reached at fpollaro@mjhlifesciences.com.


  1. Baker Sr. G. Four Concepts To Drive Innovation In A Time Of Crisis. Forbes, August 24, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2020/08/24/four-concepts-to-drive-innovation-in-a-time-of-crisis/?sh=5e6851934daa
  2. Hu K. ChatGPT Sets Record for Fastest-growing User Base - Analyst Note. Reuters, February 2, 2023, https://www.reuters.com/technology/chatgpt-sets-record-fastest-growing-user-base-analyst-note-2023-02-01/
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