22/03/2023 | BlogPost

The AI Revolution in Pharma Marketing: are we putting patients at risk?

Lino Mari | Head of Technology, Healthware International


The pharmaceutical industry is among the many sectors undergoing transformation due to the AI revolution. The integration of AI in pharma marketing holds promises of enhanced targeting, personalization, and customer interaction, yet also poses significant concerns regarding the wellbeing of patients.

The objective of this piece is to evaluate both the advantages and dangers of utilizing AI in pharmaceutical marketing and to delve into the function that regulation can play in ensuring its ethical usage.

With the rapid growth of AI technology, it is more important than ever to carefully consider the implications of its use in pharmaceutical marketing.

The benefits of AI in Pharma Marketing

The application of AI in pharma marketing brings a plethora of opportunities for both the industry and patients alike. Some of the major advantages include:

  • Targeting optimization: With the help of AI, pharmaceutical firms can optimize their marketing strategies by examining consumer behaviour and preferences. This results in more impactful and effective marketing initiatives that communicate the right message to the right audience.
  • Personalized approach: AI can also personalize marketing endeavors for specific consumers through methods like AI-powered chatbots that offer customized health information and advice based on a patient's unique needs and medical history.
  • Enhanced customer interaction: AI can boost customer engagement by delivering more personal and interactive experiences. For example, AI-powered virtual assistants can assist patients in navigating complex health information and making informed decisions about their treatment options.
  • Operational efficiency improvement: The incorporation of AI in pharma marketing can increase efficiency by automating routine tasks, freeing up time and resources for more strategic endeavors.

By capitalizing on the benefits of AI in pharma marketing, pharmaceutical companies can enhance their marketing efforts and better cater to their customers. However, as the following chapter will discuss, there are also critical risks and concerns that must be taken into consideration.

The risks of AI in Pharma Marketing

The implementation of AI in pharmaceutical marketing presents many opportunities, but also poses a number of risks. Some of the key dangers are:

  • Dissemination of false information: AI models that have been trained with inaccurate or partial data can lead to the spread of false information. This is particularly problematic in the healthcare field where precision is essential to the well-being of patients.
  • Biased AI: Artificial intelligence can also reinforce existing biases and discriminatory practices, resulting in unequal treatment of patients based on factors like race, gender or others. This can have serious impacts on patients' health and well-being.
  • Data security risks: AI in pharma marketing also brings up critical data privacy concerns, as pharmaceutical companies hold sensitive health information that needs to be handled responsibly and securely.
  • Lack of accountability: AI algorithms can be complex and challenging to comprehend, which makes it difficult to determine the reasoning behind decisions. This lack of transparency can breed mistrust and uncertainty.
  • Over-reliance on technology: As AI becomes more widely used in pharmaceutical marketing, there is a risk that human experience and judgement will be disregarded, leading to poor decisions that can harm patients.

To make sure AI is used responsibly in pharmaceutical marketing, it is important to consider these potential risks and implement measures to counteract them.

Real-life examples of the use of AI in Pharma marketing and the impact on patients

Case Study 1: Mental health and social media advertising

A real-life example of the impact of AI in pharmaceutical marketing is the controversy surrounding the use of social media for mental health advertising. In recent years, pharmaceutical companies have increasingly turned to social media platforms to reach consumers with mental health information and advertisements for mental health drugs. However, the algorithms used by these platforms to target consumers can perpetuate stigma and discrimination, leading to unequal treatment of patients.
For example, a study conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that social media advertisements for mental health drugs were more likely to target African-American and Latino users, despite the fact that these groups have lower usage rates of these drugs. This raises concerns about unequal treatment and the perpetuation of existing health disparities.

In response to these concerns, regulatory agencies such as the FDA have begun to take a closer look at the use of AI in pharmaceutical marketing. The FDA has issued guidance on the use of social media for mental health advertising and warned companies that they must ensure their advertisements are accurate, balanced and not misleading.

Case study 2: AI-powered personalized medicine

Another example of the application of AI in the pharma marketing sector is personalised medicine. By utilizing AI algorithms to analyse huge amounts of patient data, including genetic information, medical history, and lifestyle, customized treatment plans can be developed.
While this holds the promise of major advantages for patients, it's crucial to address the associated risks too. For instance, questions have arisen about the accuracy and dependability of AI algorithms and the possibility of unequal treatment based on race, gender, or socio-economic status.

It's essential to consider these risks in a thorough manner and regulate and oversee the use of AI in personalised medicine to protect patient welfare.

These case studies emphasize the influence AI can have on the pharmaceutical industry and the significance of regulation to ensure accountable utilization of AI in pharma marketing. By keeping a close watch on the use of AI in this field and establishing guidelines and standards, potential hazards can be reduced, and patient well-being safeguarded.

The role of regulation

The use of AI in pharmaceutical marketing presents both opportunities and challenges. To ensure its responsible implementation, regulation is a key factor. Regulatory agencies such as the FDA have taken steps to regulate the use of AI in the industry. For instance, the FDA has released guidelines on the use of social media for mental health advertising, reminding companies to make sure their ads are truthful, impartial, and don't deceive the public.

This highlights the crucial role regulation plays in ensuring the safe and responsible utilization of AI in pharmaceutical marketing. With the establishment of standards and regulations, regulatory agencies can mitigate the risks involved in using AI in the sector and safeguard the health of patients.


In this article, we delved into the integration of AI in pharmaceutical marketing and its potential consequences for patients. By examining case studies and discussing the issues and prospects, we emphasized the significance of ethical and responsible use of AI in this field.

To summarise, the utilization of AI in pharmaceutical marketing holds tremendous advantages, such as improved accuracy and efficiency in targeted advertising and personalised medicine. However, it also entails critical dangers, including the risk of unequal treatment, perpetuation of existing health disparities, and incorrect communication of health information.

Therefore, it is imperative that the pharmaceutical sector takes steps to guarantee responsible use of AI in marketing. This can include:

  • Close surveillance of the use of AI algorithms to ensure that they are accurate, dependable, and free from bias.
  • Establishment of stringent regulatory standards and guidelines to safeguard patients from harm and promote ethical use of AI in pharmaceutical marketing.
  • Investment in education and training to ensure industry professionals comprehend the potential and limitations of AI and can make informed decisions about its use.
  • Collaboration between industry, government, and academic institutions to support research and development of AI technologies that place patient safety and well-being at the forefront.

By adopting a responsible and ethical stance towards its implementation and regulation, the industry can guarantee that patients are protected and that the full potential of AI is achieved.



  • N. Bhatia, "Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Pharmaceutical Marketing: A Review", Journal of Medical Systems.
  • Kumar and M. H. Jafari, "The role of artificial intelligence in pharmaceutical marketing: Current applications and future directions", Journal of Business Research.
  • E. Berenson, "Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare: Past, Present, and Future".


  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Big Data
  • Digital health
  • Digital health revolution
  • Digital Health Transformation
  • Healthcare Marketing
  • Mental Health
  • pharma companies
  • Pharma Marketing
  • Scale
  • Technology
Lino Mari

As Head of Technology, Lino leads international teams and assists clients in identifying the most appropriate software architecture and technology solutions for corporate communications, campaigns, service portals, intranet, mobile-enabled websites and digital therapeutics. A strong advocate of R&D and innovation, Lino uses Agile methodologies such as Scrum and Shape Up to get results and ensure projects are delivered to the highest level of quality. With his expertise in AI and DTx, Lino is always at the forefront of emerging technologies and is committed to providing clients with the most effective and cutting-edge solutions.