Defending donor plasma collection

The introduction of a pay-for-plasma clinic in Canada poses a serious safety risk to the security of our blood supply.

In the early 1980s, Canadians learned that their blood supply had become tainted with HIV and Hepatitis C. Canadians lost faith in the blood collector at the time, the Red Cross, prompting the Federal government to create a new arm’s length agency, Canadian Blood Services (CBS) and authorizing them to implement the recommendations of Justice Horace Krever which require blood be collected by only non-remunerated, voluntary donors. Now, it is the goal of the World Health Organization and many other international health agencies to have 100% voluntary blood and plasma collection globally by 2020.

Plasma is thea straw coloured portion of blood that is used in anti-clotting drugs for hemophiliacs. In February 2016, Health Canada has givengave an establishment license to a for-profit company to collect and reimburse this blood product and then to sell it possibly on the international market. The Saskatchewan for-profit clinic provides donors with a $25 gift card. This poses a serious risk to the safety and security of our blood supply. If a Canadian company were to start selling plasma on the international market, we would have to continue selling to the highest bidder even if we were experiencing a shortfall for ourselves. The right of a private company to make a profit has been put before the security of Canada’s plasma supply.

Canada is now only one of 3 countries worldwide that allows the paid collection of plasma. In other countries with both collection methods there has been a noted drop in public, non-remunerated donations. Canadian Blood Services is now noting a drop in public donations in Saskatchewan. The Federal Minister of Health Jane Philpott has saidys she has asked Health Canada to assess those concerns. but the ability of a private company to make a profit has been put before the security of Canada’s blood.

Other for-profit plasma collection clinics are expected to open in Canada this year. The Canadian Health Coalition remains concerned that Health Canada continues to abdicate its duty to regulate plasma in the public interest. Canadian Blood Services has admitted in December 2016 that the paid plasma clinic in Saskatoon has negatively impacted their collection efforts. The Federal Minister of Health Jane Philpott has says she has asked Health Canada to assess those concerns.

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