TraceLink Tracks Down $60M to Fight Counterfeit Drugs Worldwide

Xconomy Boston — 

A global proliferation of subpar and fake prescription drugs is driving more investment into businesses combating the problem with new software-based systems for tracking the supply chain of pharmaceuticals.

TraceLink is one of those companies on the rise, and the North Reading, MA-based firm recently raised $60 million in a new venture capital round, according to a document filed with the SEC. That brings TraceLink’s total equity funding to at least $137.2 million, per SEC filings. Its investors include Goldman Sachs, FirstMark Capital, Volition Capital, and F-Prime Capital. TraceLink officials couldn’t be immediately reached for comment Monday morning.

TraceLink sells cloud-based software that enables companies in the pharmaceutical industry to perform various tasks around authenticating and tracking the drugs they work with. That includes meeting regulatory compliance standards, storing what can be a massive amount of data created by tracking individual packages of drugs, and interacting with other companies that use TraceLink (such as manufacturers coordinating with distributors).

As Xconomy has reported, the nine-year-old company aims to not only let customers track large amounts of data, but its software is also meant to let them exchange data on the platform, almost like a social network, co-founder and CEO Shabbir Dahod said in a 2015 interview.

TraceLink is part of a broad effort to stamp out substandard and fake drugs and other medical products, a profitable enterprise for criminals worldwide that can cause serious health problems and death, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO estimates that 1 in 10 medical products in low- and middle-income countries is counterfeit or doesn’t meet quality standards. But the problem extends to wealthier countries as well, and the U.S. and Europe have introduced regulations in recent years to combat the spread of counterfeit drugs, including through better supply chain tracking systems.

That creates an opportunity for TraceLink and companies offering similar services, such as PharmaSecure, ConsortiEX, and TrackTraceRX.

TraceLink, for its part, recently announced that demand for its software has been growing rapidly, particularly in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. It now counts more than 800 customers across 35 countries, according to a May press release. It employs 400 people worldwide, the company said in February. (As a private company, TraceLink doesn’t reveal its exact revenue or other financial results.)

But it’s time to add TraceLink to the list of IPO candidates in the Boston area, given how much venture capital it has raised and the traction it says it’s getting in the market. Still, its latest cash infusion likely will push that decision further into the future.