Securing Canada’s plasma supply

With dedicated collection sites in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia

August 06, 2019 (OTTAWA) – Canadian Blood Services is pleased to announce that with the support of funding governments, plans are now underway to increase plasma collection with three proof-of-concept sites in Sudbury, ON, Lethbridge, AB, and Kelowna, B.C.

These sites will be dedicated to the collection of source plasma, which is the blood component used to make specialized medicines from the proteins in human plasma. The protein products that are derived from source plasma are used in the treatment of patients with a variety of life-threatening conditions. In addition to the three sites in Sudbury, Lethbridge and Kelowna, Canadian Blood Services will continue to collect plasma through the blood collection process at other donor centres across the country.

Usage of one plasma protein product, Immune globulin (Ig), has doubled internationally over the past ten years. Ig is used to treat primary immunodeficiency disorders, a group of rare chronic disorders in which part of the immune system is missing or functioning improperly. Secondary immunodeficiencies, which result from non-genetic factors such as viruses and chemotherapy, are also treated with Ig.

Canadian Blood Services has identified the decrease in plasma sufficiency – the percentage of Ig product delivered to Canadian patients that is produced from plasma collected in Canada by Canadian Blood Services, the national agency mandated by provinces and territories to do so – as a material risk needing mitigation.

“Canadian Blood Services is responsible for ensuring a safe and secure supply of plasma, and for mitigating the risks and impacts of the growing global demand for plasma protein products such as Ig, within Canada’s national healthcare system,” says Dr. Graham Sher, CEO, Canadian Blood Services.

“Opening these stand-alone sites will allow us to increase plasma collection and halt the current downward trend in Canada’s source plasma sufficiency levels. By increasing the domestic plasma supply we can continue to be responsive to the needs of Canadian patients, today and into the future,” adds Dr. Sher.

The Sudbury site will be the first to open, with collection from eligible donors expected to get underway by the Spring 2020, followed by Lethbridge in Fall 2020, and Kelowna in Spring 2021. These locations were chosen based on criteria for optimal conditions to allow collection of voluntary, unpaid donations.

The purpose of the proof-of-concept approach will be to further test and perfect a new collections model that is separate and distinct from the one currently used to collect whole blood. The model adheres to the founding principles of voluntary, unpaid donation in Canada, and builds on Canadian Blood Services’ extensive expertise and decades of experience in whole blood collection, combined with industry best practices and the cumulative knowledge acquired from other blood operators that are meeting their sufficiency targets. The goal is to secure domestic plasma sufficiency in Canada for Canadian patients in the most sustainable, cost-effective and scalable manner possible.