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News from China
Pharma, tech giants team up to build digital ecosystem
30th January 2018

 Shanghai fund company employee Cathy Wang said she and several friends searched the net for a private clinic in Hong Kong to make reservations to get Gardasil 9 shots against a common virus that can cause cervical cancer. 

 
Gardasil 9, put out by MSD, isn’t yet available on the mainland, but the Gardasil 4 vaccine is. 
 
Sammi Zheng, a Beijing office worker in her early 30s, learned about the latter vaccine from online postings and chose to get an inoculation at a local community health clinic. 
 
 
“I decided to get the inoculation after reading about the disease and the vac-cine, but I wanted to save myself the trouble of traveling to Hong Kong,” she said.
 
 “I decided to get the inoculation after reading about the disease and the vac-cine, but I wanted to save myself the trouble of traveling to Hong Kong,” she said. 
 
The modern generation of young people, who rely on digital devices for so many aspects of their daily lives, is plumbing the Internet for medical information amid widespread concern about health. 
 
A survey of 1,400 patients last year by Kantar Health and the online medical community DXY.cn found respondents were spending about a quarter of their online time searching for information on disease and healthcare on medical sites, WeChat postings and pharmaceutical platforms. 
 
 
But is the information always accurate and reliable? 
 
Pharmaceutical companies and Internet service providers are seeking to ensure that the information they provide is accurate. They have also developed systems to track drugs sold online to make sure they are genuine. 
 
Since last year, MSD China has distributed its Gardasil 4 human papillomavirus vaccine, also known as HPV, through mainland distributor Chongqing Zhifei Biological Products Co. 
 
Earlier this month, it entered into a partnership with AliHealth to target women between the ages of 20 and 45 to provide them information on cervical cancer and the HPV vaccine. 
 
“Amid a rising online population in China, we want to use the most efficient channel to help consumers get a better understanding of disease and health risks,” MSD China President Joseph Romanelli said in an interview with Shanghai Daily earlier this month. “We hope to work closer with partners adept in digital technologies to help build an ecosystem that will ultimately help both physicians and patients.” 
 
 
Digital transformation in the pharmaceutical industry has come at a slower pace than development in industries such as finance, he added. 
 
Easy reach 
 
 
Other multinational drug companies are tapping into the convenience of smartphone applications and the user bases of Internet providers such as Alibaba. 
 
Bayer is using digital channels to pro-mote its self-care concepts and perhaps sales of its products. The Germany-based company wants to combine its resources with platforms such as Alibaba’s Tmall Global flagship store to integrate with Alibaba’s cross-border e-commerce ecosystem and merchandising capabilities. 
 
China Biological Tech Co Vice President Wu Yonglin said his company is teaming up with Alibaba’s AliHealth to explore new models to make healthcare information more accessible to consumers under the “Health China 2030” plan. 
 
Online appointments for inoculations of selected adult vaccines are already available for residents in more than 1,000 community health centers in 100 cities in China, using the resources of a link with AliHealth. 
 
“It’s a big trend for pharma companies to adopt digital ways of dispersing information on health and disease management,” said Yang Hongfei, co-founder of Hangzhou Firestone Technology Co, which provides healthcare and pharmaceutical industry data to governments and businesses. 
 
Digital channels also offer new ways for patients to manage their chronic disease when they are not seeing doctors or going to hospitals. 
The collection of user behavioral data remains a sticky issue, Yang said. It’s still too early to determine how the data may improve operational efficiency. 
 
 
Ensuring that consumers get objective, fair healthcare information is a core issue for involved players, he added. 
 
 
Wang Wenjing, deputy secretary-general of the China International Exchange and Promotion Association for Medical and Healthcare, said disease management and public health awareness would be greatly improved if Internet companies and the pharma industry collaborate. 
 
Lin Jixiang, president of the Beicai Community Health Service Center in Pudong, said that such relationships help community hospital doctors ensure that patients take appropriate dos-ages of medicine and that the public receives proper advice on lifestyle and diet factors that may have an impact on health. 
 
 
Jin Xiaodong, head of Sanofi China’s cardiovascular business unit, said using the AliHealth platform enables his company to implement initiatives that affect patients and physicians in efficient, more accessible ways. 
 
Tailor-made 
 
 
An AliHealth official told Shanghai Daily that patient education and health-care information has been built upon the company’s medicine-tracking technology. Digital channels also allow services more tailor-made to patient needs. 
 
Digital health management is still in its formative stages at AliHealth, amid hopes that more players will be drawn into the mix. 
 
As another Internet giant, Tencent is pursuing digital healthcare initiatives mostly aimed at medical institutions and healthcare service providers. Its artificial intelligence program is helping nearly 100 hospitals in medical imaging and screening for certain types of early-stage cancer. 
 
In late December, Tencent launched its own medical-information platform, called Tencent Yidian, through its popular social networking application WeChat. The initiative provides authoritative health-related information to users. 
 
Zhang Meng, Tencent vice president and head of the medical-information center, told a media interview in late December that the company is not initially seeking profit from the platform. The emphasis is first and foremost high-quality content, he said. 
 
China’s largest search engine Baidu has curbed lucrative healthcare adverts and paid search results following regulatory orders after a scandal in mid 2016 and the company also shut down its mobile healthcare business Baidu Doctor to merge with its artificial intelligence operations in early 2017. It has also shifted its focus toward leveraging artificial intelligence to help with doctors’ recommendations and treatment options. 
 
Source: Shanghai Daily, January 30, 2018
SK challenges US tariffs at WTO
26th January 2018

 South Korea has hit back rapidly at US tariffs on washing machines and solar panels, filing challenges and demands for compensation at the World Trade Organization.

 
The WTO published the South Korean complaints yesterday, two days after US President Donald Trump signed the steep tariffs into law. He billed the move as a way to protect American jobs but the solar industry said it would lead to thousands of layoffs and raise consumer prices.
 
The 30 percent tariff on solar panels was among the first unilateral trade restrictions imposed by the Trump administration as part of a broader protectionist agenda aimed at helping US manufacturers, but which has alarmed Asian trading partners that produce lower cost goods.
 
South Korea challenged the US tariffs under the WTO’s Safeguard Agreement, leaving open the possibility of a full trade dispute later.
 
The agreement gives the US 30 days to settle the matter, after which South Korea has a 60-day window to impose trade sanctions, if the US measures break WTO rules. It was not clear if the United States could challenge that assumption.
 
Seoul is already seeking WTO trade sanctions to retaliate for Washington’s failure to comply with an earlier WTO ruling.
 
On Wednesday US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross brushed off the threat of South Korea going to the WTO.
 
“The fact that they may get a favorable decision (at the WTO) doesn’ mean that it’s a correct decision,” he said. “But in any event there’s been no decision yet so it’s a little bit too early to assume that the safeguards will be knocked out.”
 
No country has ever negotiated a settlement under the WTO safeguard rules, and it was not clear if they could provide a quicker result than a full dispute, which could take three years or more, giving US manufacturers a long period of protection from competition by their South Korean rivals.
 
Under WTO rules, a country can impose safeguards — temporary emergency tariffs — to shield its domestic industry from an sudden, unforeseen and damaging surge in imports.
 
Ricardo Melndez-Ortiz, head of the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, said the solar tariffs would fail to boost US solar manufacturing and would destroy US jobs while impeding the fight against climate change.
 
“These tariffs are insufficient to really generate enough stimulus to create the manufacturing capacity that they are trying to stimulate,” he said.
 
“It’s just going to slow down the production of sustainable energy and solar in the US, in a big way.”
 
Source: Shanghai Daily, January 26, 2018
More snow on the way as Shanghai airports face delays
25th January 2018

 The strong cold front from the north is dumping snow and ice across the city.

 
Patchy light snow fell overnight, and by 8am, 2 to 4 millimeters of snow fell across the city. Qingpu District saw medium-to-heavy snow, with 4.2 centimeters accumulating on roads, according to Shanghai Meteorological Bureau.
 
Heavier snow is forecast this afternoon, and it will continue until the wee hours tomorrow.
 
A yellow alert for snow storms, second of the four-tier system, was released at 12:43pm, forecasting that 6 to 10 millimeters of snow will fall within 12 hours.
 
Forecasters said the city’s western and northern parts, including Qingpu, Jiading, and Songjiang districts, will be hit by heavy snow or even blizzards, which will dump up to 8 centimeters of snow on the roads.
 
Meanwhile, a yellow icy road alert, which was released last night, is still in place.
 
Due to freezing and snowy weather, some 20 flights have been cancelled along with over 40 being delayed at Shanghai's two airports this morning.
 
General takeoff and landing at both Pudong and Hongqiao international airports remained normal as over 120 flights braved the snow to land, and over 230 have taken off this morning, the Shanghai Airport Authority said.
 
The airport authority has helped to defrost 23 aircraft at Pudong and 63 at Hongqiao by spraying melting agents on aircraft bodies after being berthed on aprons overnight.
 
The air traffic controller has issued a third level yellow alert for potential flight delays at Pudong and Hongqiao airports. The takeoff and landing capacity at both airports is expected to be reduced by 30 percent from 7am today and 1am tomorrow, according to the air traffic controller.
 
To avoid massive flight delays, 11 snow blower vehicles have been standing by at both airports along with another four specialized vehicles to spray melting agents on the runways, according to the authority. A total of 90 tons of melting agent and 30 tons of industrial salt have been prepared.
 
Shanghai Railway Bureau announced that over 200 trains leaving from the city's three railway terminals for Anhui, Jiangsu and Beijing on Thursday and Friday will be cancelled.
 
Exposed water pipes, valves and meters at the airports have been wrapped with heat-retaining materials. Air-conditioners have been inspected to ensure terminal buildings stay warm.
 
The local agricultural commission said they will strengthen the protection of local vegetable greenhouses and clear the snow on the screens of the greenhouses to prevent them from being damaged. Seedlings planted in spring should be covered with more layers, as well as some overwintered vegetables and fruits.
 
The farmers are also told to clean the ditches to ensure good drainage and avoid flooding in fields. Efforts should be made to raise the yield of vegetables and fruits for abundant supply for the upcoming Chinese New Year.
 
Measures of anti-disaster management should be applied and farmers should also be careful with electricity safety.
Source: Shanghai Daily, January 25, 2018
Shanghai to ensure more rental homes available
24th January 2018

 Shanghai will make more effort in fostering its residential leasing market this year by speeding up real estate development as well as offering support for professional home leasing companies and institutions, Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong said.

 
He was speaking at the first session of the 15th Shanghai People’s Congress yesterday.
 
The city aims to add a total of 290,000 leasing units, including newly built rental apartments, to the local market in 2018 and set up a home leasing service platform, Ying said as he delivered the city government’s work report.
 
Shanghai will also add about 55,000 affordable housing units this year, improve its policies for joint-ownership houses and lower the application threshold for low-rent homes.
 
Ying pledged to stick to current tightening policies to quell speculation, and vowed to accelerate the pace of establishing a housing system that will ensure supply from multiple sources, provide housing support through multiple channels, and encourage both house purchases and rental.
 
“It is great to see that various accommodation demands will be satisfied through various means and with various products as the government has proposed,” said Siu Wing Chu, managing director for central China at Savills.
 
“A key job of the government will be how to work out an appropriate and scientific way to satisfy residents’ housing demands and make better use of existing inventories.”
 
Source: Shanghai Daily, January 24, 2018

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