AliHealth names YPB a partner on meds traceability platform

AliHealth has signed a contract with YPB on pharma traceability that signals its intention to roll the platform out overseas.

The new agreement means YPB has now been appointed an independent software vendor for the AliHealth supply chain traceability platform for the China market, according to the Australia-based company.

YPB also says it will be involved in rolling the platform out internationally, making Alibaba’s subsidiary “the most important strategic partnership for YPB … since the company's inception.” There is however no firm data for an international launch.

AliHealth was at the heart of China’s short-lived national medicine tracking system – originally developed by Hong Kong-listed company 21st Century and known as PIATS (Product Identification, Authentication and Tracking System – which was abandoned by the government in 2016 after pharma companies and other stakeholders argued it was anti-competitive.

The traceability platform has since been refined and rebadged as Mashang Fangxin (Be Right at Ease) and has been made available since June 2016 on a voluntary basis to pharma companies in China who want to track products from production through to the end user.

At launch, AliHealth said the system remained compatible with the tracking standards specified by the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) which so far have not been updated after a public consultation in February 2016.

Now, the Chinese company is positioning its traceability platform within a suite of other digital health applications, including an e-commerce engine – for which it claims a 60-plus per cent market share in China – as well as healthcare services with doctors to providing online consultations, and healthcare management. It’s also just signed a deal with Malaysian technology firm PUC to apply blockchain to its health service offering

AliHealth also intends to start promoting its traceability platform outside pharma via “a small number of commercial partners,” according to the Australian company.

YPB said the new deal is the “first step in a deep strategic relationship” with AliHealth that will accelerate its China subsidiary’s path to profitability and should be worth A$1m-plus per year.

Revenues will come from shared annual fees charged to brand owners for serialised QR codes that can be assigned to their products, as well as the provision of proprietary YPB technologies supporting the implementation and protection of QR codes by brands that will be booked by YPB.

“I believe that AliHealth's parent company Alibaba Group has done more to fight counterfeit than any other global company and working with Ali Health to grow its user base in China will build our expertise to successfully work together in international markets,” said YPB’s executive chairman John Houston.

“Although an international launch remains subject to AliHealth's final determination and is not guaranteed, I'm confident that it will ultimately occur,” he added.

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