NBNU strongly opposes the licensing of for-profit clinics that pay clients to donate blood plasma.
We believe these clinics pose a serious safety risk to our blood supply. Allowing a private company to pay donors for plasma conflicts with the recommendations of the four-year inquiry into the tainted blood scandal that infected over 30,000 Canadians with HIV and Hepatitis C. The Krever report made unequivocal recommendations that must be heeded to prevent another tainted blood tragedy in this country.
In his report, Justice Krever recommended that:
- “…the Canadian blood supply system be governed by five basic principles, [including] (b) donors of blood and blood plasma should not be paid for their donations, except in rare circumstances.” [Krever, Vol.3, p.1047, Recommendation #2].
- “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].
- “Canadian plasma should be custom fractionated, in batches consisting only of Canadian plasma, based on specifications negotiated between the fractionator and the national blood service. These specifications should include requirements for the manufacture of the safest and the highest quality products.” [Vol.3, Recommendation #5, p. 1051].
There are several risks to our national voluntary blood supply system if Canadian Plasma Resources is allowed to operate in New Brunswick or in any other province:
- Paying donors for plasma compromises the safety of plasma. By providing a financial incentive to donate plasma, the clinic could attract donors from vulnerable populations and put the plasma at risk. Blood or plasma donation on a voluntary basis is particularly crucial whenever the collection system is endangered by a new infectious threat, not identifiable by lab testing. The sole means to safeguard against such unknown threats is the voluntary collection of plasma from healthy citizens who have no monetary incentive to lie about their health status.
- Paying people for their plasma could create competition with our voluntary blood system. Paying people for their plasma creates a disincentive to donate blood voluntarily, thereby reducing our overall blood supply. The European Blood Alliance has documented that competition between voluntary non-profit blood agencies and for-profit companies that remunerated donors led to a shortage in blood supply in Austria and Germany in 2006 and 2007. Once Canadian Plasma Resources is licensed to collect plasma through payment, other for-profit companies will be able to demand similar treatment and increase the competition for donors.
- Paying donors for plasma does not create self-sufficiency for the country. Instead, it creates a two-tier and fragmented system for the collection of plasma. All of the plasma that Canadian Plasma Resources plans to collect will be exported to the United States and mixed in with large pools of donated plasma. Only plasma collected by Canadian Blood Services that is specifically marked for Canadian use is fractionated in the U.S. and then brought back to Canada. Canadian Blood Services says it has no plans to buy plasma from Canada Plasma Resources.
We support a publicly regulated, not-for-profit voluntary blood and plasma donation system in Canada as recommended by Justice Krever, the World Health Organization, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Society, the International Society of Blood Transfusion.