Whilst most of us are still trying to make some sense out of Alibaba’s acquisition of a controlling stake in CITIC 21cn, a loss-making pharmaceutical data company, for US$171.23 million earlier this year, Alibaba has announced that it has successfully integrated CITIC 21cn’s digital database of drugs into its e-commerce platform and cloud computing system, and is preparing the launch its “Drug Safety Plan”.
Counterfeit or substandard drugs have been a long existing issue for China, according to a Baker & McKenzie report, China is the largest producer of counterfeit medication in the world. Under the proposed plan, users can use Alipay and Mobile Taobao to scan the barcode and electronic registration code on the packaging of any existing drug on the market, in order to retrieve information about its authenticity, prohibition, production and distribution.
Obviously, such apps wouldn’t function well without the database of CITIC 21cn, whose business is mainly to provide electronic registration information to third parties including government agencies, manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies and consumers. CITIC 21cn’s platform has been widely accepted and applied throughout the nation, covering drugs, food and beverages, agriculture products and home appliances.
Similar to Alibaba’s “Future Hospital” plan, as we reported earlier, the concept behind the “Drugs Safety Plan” is to contribute to the establishment of a one-stop-shop for the gamut of users’ medical needs. As an e-commerce giant, Alibaba wants more than to merely be an information provider and fake drugs detector. If we can already register for doctor consultations, pay the medicine bill and check medical reports via Alipay, the next logical move is of course to get necessary drug information, and subsequently make a purchase.
It is expected that the app will have functions like “Fake Drugs Detection”, “Expiration Alerts”, “Personal Drugs Management” , “Pills alert” and “Online Consultation”, allowing users to have a more well rounded platform to meet their needs.
Drug barcodes are used for the classification of drug type, effects, side effects and reviews. Electronic registration codes are analogous to drug identification cards, telling you when it was manufactured, where it is distributed and when it expires.
Alibaba is expecting to obtain necessary regulatory support in order to promote full coverage of all the drug barcodes and electronic registration codes in its database.