Medipost is aggressively pushing to encourage customers to extend their umbilical cord blood storage at the blood bank.
The company recently set up a separate team to grab the customers whose placental blood contracts with Medipost are nearing expiration.
Cord blood is stored at least for 15 years, or for longer 20 years, 25 years, 30 years, 40 years, and for life, depending on options. Most subscribers in the early 2000s, when the cord blood storage took shape in Korea, chose the 15-year type. Now in 2018, their contracts are reaching maturity.
As extensions of the contracts would positively affect Medipost’s sales this year, the company is offering extra benefits such as coverage of cord blood transplantation fees and reimbursement to those who prolong the contract.
Under the Act on Cord Blood Management and Research, the company should discard the expired umbilical cord blood if it fails to get the customer’s confirmation for an extension. The law prevents illegal use or sales of cord blood in maturity.
Medipost’s team directly contacts customers to check their opinions.
“One customer was not willing to extend the contract until one year before expiration. But the customer’s child developed a blood disease, and the customer applied for the extension nearly at the end,” said Yang Jeong-yoon, head of the umbilical cord blood customer support team at Medipost. “In another case, we could not reach for contact with a customer, so we discarded the cord blood. But the customer later contacted us and regretted not extending the storage period.”
The initial cord blood service was based on 15 years of storage because the storage targeted pediatric cancer with high incidence in pediatric adolescence, according to Yang. However, after 15 years now, umbilical cord blood stem cells are used more widely and frequently, pushing up storages for more than 20 years or a lifetime, he said.
“If cord blood is cryopreserved using liquid nitrogen, it has no significant difference in cell viability even after a long period. So, customers can choose to request long-term storage or extend the period,” Yang said.
Medipost estimates that the number of customers whose cord blood storage reached expiration will go up to 30,000 this year from 1,000 in 2016. The biotech firm has maintained more than 50 percent share in the cord blood market since 2001.
The extension of the cord blood storage costs about 1 million won ($925) for 20 years. If all of the expiration-nearing customers extend the storage, it will create up to 30 billion won in profit, according to Medipost. The company’s revenue reached 42.2 billion won last year.
Umbilical cord blood refers to the blood in the umbilical cord that supplies oxygen and nutrients to the fetus during pregnancy.
Cord blood can be collected only during labor, and it can be frozen after inspection and processing. Later, it can be used to treat an incurable disease of the owner and family.
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