“The safety of our blood system is being jeopardized,” says blood safety and health care advocates

Ottawa, Ontario- Advocates for blood safety and health care held a joint media conference earlier today calling on the federal government to revoke the license of Canadian Plasma Resources and implement the recommendations of the Krever Inquiry which called for blood and blood products to be collected from voluntary, non-remunerated donors.

“Despite the recommendation for 100 per cent voluntary, non-remunerated blood collection by the World Health Organization, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Society, and many others, Canada has just begun remunerating donors,” said Adrienne Silnicki, Canadian Health Coalition. “I don’t understand why Federal Health Minister, Jane Philpott, is allowing Canada to move backwards and jeopardize the safety of our blood system. Despite evidence from other countries which show a donor-remunerated plasma system will directly compete with our voluntary system, the Federal government has still given CPR the green light.”

In February, Health Canada gave an establishment license to Canadian Plasma Resources so that they could begin collecting plasma from donors that would be compensated with a $25 gift card. CPR has set up collection centres next to methadone clinics, homeless shelters, university campuses and across the street from payday loan centres and pawn shops.

“Our blood system came on the backs of people burying their kids. 30,000 people were infected with hepatitis C; 2,000 people were infected with HIV and now we’re showing that we haven’t learned our lesson,” said Andrew Cumming, co-infected hemophiliac.

“It is the sole responsibility of Canadian Blood Services to collect all blood and plasma on behalf of the public. Selling off a major stake in our blood system contravenes the promise that was made to Canadians in the most fundamental way since our blood tragedy, this situation is a total betrayal of public trust. Selling off our blood system to the pharmaceutical industry is not an option,” said Kat Lanteigne, Co-founder of Bloodwatch.org.

The Canadian Health Coalition and Bloodwatch.org are calling on the federal government to revoke Canadian Plasma Resources’ license and implement Mr. Justice Horace Krever’s recommendations from his inquiry into the tainted blood scandal. Among those recommendations were:

  1. That the Canadian blood supply be governed by five basic principles:
  • Blood is a public resource.
  • Donors should not be paid.
  • Sufficient blood should be collected so that importation from other countries is unnecessary.
  • Access to blood and blood products should be free and universal.
  • Safety of the blood supply system is paramount. (Recommendation #2)
  1. Whole blood, plasma and platelets must be collected in sufficient quantities to meet domestic needs for blood components and blood products (vol. 3, Recommendation #2, p.1047)
  2. Canadian plasma should be custom fractionated, in batches consisting only of Canadian plasma…(Vol. 3, Recommendation #5, p.1051)

Krever also recommended that no part of the national blood operators duties be contracted out to other parties.

The Canadian Health Coalition and Bloodwatch.org are also calling on provincial and territorial governments to implement legislation banning the sale of blood and blood products as was done in Quebec and Ontario. To meet the supply needs of Canadians for plasma used in medicines, Canadian Blood Services must re-open the plasma collection centres they’ve closed in recent years and open new, voluntary donation centres.

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