Health­care plat­form will help source medicines for pa­tients

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By MENG FANBIN meng­fan­bin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd plans to set up an on­line health­care plat­form to help pa­tients source medicines.

The e-com­merce gi­ant an­nounced this week that it would roll out a ser­vice un­der Ali Health to solve the prob­lem of find­ing pre­scrip­tion drugs for nu­mer­ous ail­ments.

“This non-profit plat­form, known as the Global Drug Seek­ing Union, aims to help pa­tients from China to find rare medicines through trans­par­ent and re­li­able chan­nels,” said Liang Su­juan, man­ager of the project.

“This will be the first in­for­ma­tion project of its kind in the world.”

The de­ci­sion will help Alibaba take an­other ten­ta­tive step into the health­care sec­tor, Liang pointed out.

Plans are un­der­way for the on­line plat­form to work with wel­fare or­ga­ni­za­tions, med­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions, such as hos­pi­tals and health­care clin­ics, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies, in­ter­net in­for­ma­tion ap­pli­ca­tions and the me­dia.

“In­for­ma­tion asym­me­try has long ex­isted in the health­care sec­tor here,” said Xie Fang­min, CEO of Jianke.com, an e-com­merce phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal re­tailer.

“For in­stance, there are many drugs that can only be ob­tained in first-tier cities, such as Bei­jing and Shang­hai.”

Pa­tients in China can find it dif­fi­cult to source cer­tain per­cent drugs de­pend­ing on where they live in the coun­try. In ad­di­tion, drugs for rare dis­eases are usu­ally lim­ited.

“But this will be dif­fer­ent from on­line re­tail­ers,” Liang said. “The Global Drug Seek­ing Union will pro­vide in­for­ma­tion about medicines over the counter and pre­scrip­tion drugs, in­clud­ing where you can get them, how much they cost and dosage in­struc­tions.”

Ali Health also ex­pects to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion for do­mes­tic and multi­na­tional phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies.

“There might be times when ralox­ifene tablets (taken to re­duce the amount of cal­cium lost from bones) are sold out in China,” Liang said.

“So, we would in­form Merker & Co, which pro­duces the drug over­seas, and they would be able to ac­cel­er­ate pro­duc­tion.”

Sinopharm On­line, the Guangzhou Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Group and Bai Shop Phar­macy have shown in­ter­est in join­ing the project.

Last year, Ali Health set up a health­care plat­form with Sinopharm On­line.

This in­ter­net busi­ness was launched by the China Na­tional Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Group, the largest Chi­nese med­i­cal and health­care com­pany, in 2015.

Sinopharm On­line has just fin­ished its A-round of fi­nanc­ing af­ter re­ceiv­ing 120 mil­lion yuan ($17.7 mil­lion) cap­i­tal from Yun­feng Cap­i­tal and Shenglang In­vest­ment ear­lier this month.

“Although CNPG is t he largest medicine re­tailer in China with about 50 per­cent mar­ket share, and Tmall Medicine (owned by Alibaba) is t he largest e-com­merce plat­form, we can­not meet the de­mand for cer­tain medicines,” said Liang.

Re­lated in­sti­tu­tions, in­clud­ing the Na­tional Health and Fam­ily Plan­ning Com­mis­sion, has just is­sued guide­lines to help co­or­di­nate emer­gency pro­duc­tion and im­ports of cer­tain drugs.

CNPG’s share in China’s medicine re­tail mar­ket

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