Alibaba Health and Merck on Wednesday signed a strategic collaboration agreement to provide Chinese patients and their families with better access to patient-centric healthcare services.
At a Shanghai signing ceremony, both sides said they’ll focus on tracking and tracing drugs and internet health services, along with joint exploration of areas, such as pharmaceutical e-commerce and artificial intelligence.
“I have high expectations for the partnership between Alibaba Health and Merck, which is a logical step in this era,” said Leo Shen, chief executive officer of Alibaba Health. “China is experiencing a profound Internet transformation where the Internet will penetrate every stage of industrial production, business operations and people’s daily lives. Given the uniqueness and importance of the healthcare industry, the integration of internet and traditional medical and healthcare industries also needs to be driven by industry leaders.”
The collaboration will use Alibaba Health’s drug-tracking platform, combining Merck’s expertise in diabetes, thyroid disorders and cardiovascular diseases with Alibaba Health’s online healthcare know-how to help ensure safety and security of pharmaceuticals use, while generating consistent value for patients through a series of add-on services. The two companies will also explore online healthcare service applications, direct-to-patient models and AI-enabled healthcare applications.
“We are proud to partner with Alibaba Health, a distinguished world leader in digital healthcare. Through Alibaba Health’s digital platform, we can bring Merck’s healthcare expertise to even more patients and their families all across China,” said Simon Sturge, chief operating officer of Merck’s healthcare business.
Alibaba Health is the group’s flagship healthcare-focused unit. It aims to provide fair, affordable and accessible healthcare services by leveraging its specialized healthcare ecosystem and innovative technologies.
Merck is a leading science and technology company involved in healthcare and life science. It produces biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer and multiple sclerosis, along with cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production. In 2017, Merck generated sales of EUR15.3 billion in 66 countries.
Founded in 1668 and headquartered in Darmstadt, Germany, Merck is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Throughout its 85-year history in China, Merck has been at the forefront of bringing benefits to patients and their families with its drugs and healthcare solutions.
Its partnership with Alibaba Health fits into the broader context of China’s overall push for national medical reform and modernization, with a focus on technological innovation and the internet to speed the process.
“Our mission is to transform the lives of 40 million patients in China by 2025, and digitalization will play a vital role in helping us to achieve that aim,” said Rogier Janssens, General Manager of Merck’s Biopharma business in China. “By combining Merck’s expertise and rich knowledge in fields such as chronic disease, fertility and oncology, with Alibaba Health’s cutting-edge technology and technical expertise, today’s agreement will effectively improve disease awareness and health management of patients in China via advanced internet approaches.”