Reflections from Tokyo: Prospection’s Pharma Executive Roundtable on AI and Generative AI

Bruce Goodwin, former President of Janssen Japan and Managing Director of Janssen ANZ as well as Prospection Board member, shares his reflections and key takeaways from moderating Prospection's Pharma Executive Roundtable on AI and Generative AI in Tokyo. Get Bruce's take on how these technologies are transforming drug commercialization and the challenges and opportunities they present.

I recently had the opportunity to moderate Prospection’s Pharma Executive Roundtable in Tokyo, Japan, which focused on the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and generative AI on drug commercialization. The event brought together thought leaders, industry experts from Google and AWS, and several pharmaceutical presidents to discuss the challenges and opportunities presented by these innovations.

I kicked off the event by drawing parallels between the adoption of real-world data analytics over the past decade and the current wave of AI advancements, noting that we are currently at the peak of the hype cycle. Despite the hype, McKinsey & Company call the opportunity “once-in-a-century,” indicating AI can unlock applications that could produce upwards of $100B+ in annual value across the pharmaceutical value chain. For pharma commercial leaders, AI considerations are three-fold:

  1. Discovery & Development: Drugs will get to market sooner
  2. Analytics: Decisions will be faster, better, and more drug-nuanced
  3. Customers: Providers and patients will benefit from AI at the point of care

It’s apparent that AI adoption in pharma and healthcare is happening…and at a rapid pace. Decisions around how to adopt and harness it for drug commercialization need to be made. During the discussion, it became clear that indecision is also a decision and could result in a clear competitive disadvantage.

Speakers from Google, Amazon and UC San Diego

Our keynote speaker was University of California San Diego’s Professor Orly Lobel, author of the Stanford Medical School required reading and The Economist best book of 2022, “The Equality Machine: Harnessing Digital Technology for a Brighter, More Inclusive Future.” Professor Lobel is a heavyweight on topics related to AI & the law as well as tech policy, a graduate of Harvard Law School, and most recently was a G7 World Economic Forum delegate to the Japanese government. It was an honor to have her with us. She delivered a thought-provoking keynote, challenging attendees to rethink their perceptions of AI–including biases, privacy protection, and blackbox explainability– and its potential impact on the industry. Her presentation, “Harnessing AI for a Brighter Future: 6 Fallacies of AI,” emphasized the importance of building “equality machines” and deploying AI for the greater good.

The event then featured Joe Ledsam, MD, a Clinical Scientist and Google Health Lead for Google Japan, who shared insights on the development of large language models for medical question answering and the potential for AI to transform clinical practice and drug discovery. Notably, Dr. Ledsam introduced what Google has done in the clinical and pharma setting, including Google’s AlphaFold AI system that can predict structures of proteins inside the human body. 

Eric Chung, Co-founder and Co-CEO of Prospection, then introduced a novel approach to using generative AI to predict treatment outcomes, enable precision go-to-market strategies and support precision medicine strategies. His presentation highlighted the potential for AI to revolutionize the way pharmaceutical companies approach brand management and patient care.

Lastly, Toshiki Kameda, PhD, MBA, from Amazon Web Services Japan demonstrated AI-powered clinical documentation and shared a case study from Chugai Pharmaceuticals, illustrating their journey towards generative AI adoption.

AI Success is Driven from the Top

Throughout the event, attendees engaged in discussions and Q&A sessions with the speakers, covering topics such as ethical considerations surrounding AI decision-making, the balance between patient privacy and data-driven insights, and strategies for overcoming barriers to AI adoption in the pharmaceutical industry. Chatham House Rules applied, so unfortunately I can’t go into detail about some of the perceptive and important observations raised during the discussion—but it was a genuine privilege to have been involved in such high quality conversation.

One of the key takeaways from the roundtable was the importance of strong leadership and effective change management in driving successful AI adoption within pharmaceutical organizations. I shared my own experiences in fostering a culture of innovation and data-driven decision-making, hoping to provide advice for executives looking to embark on their own AI transformation journeys.

As the event concluded, it was clear that the roundtable had achieved its goal of sparking meaningful conversations and fostering a sense of excitement about the future of AI in pharma. The insights shared by the expert speakers and the engaging discussions among attendees highlighted the immense potential for AI and generative AI to transform drug commercialization, improve patient outcomes, and drive business success.


Bruce Goodwin spent four decades working in Life Sciences, and is currently a Non-executive Director of five organizations in the healthcare sector. His past experience includes President, Janssen Japan and Managing Director, Janssen ANZ, where he delivered significant organizational success through data-driven approaches. He is respected industry wide, and continues to bring insight and innovation to global companies impacting healthcare.

Prospection’s Pharma Executive Roundtable serves as a valuable platform for industry leaders to come together, exchange ideas, and collectively shape the future of healthcare. If you’d like more information or would be interested in being involved, contact us today.