The proteins in plasma support our immune system and help control excessive bleeding. Plasma is used in the treatment of a variety of life-threatening conditions including bleeding disorders, liver diseases and many types of cancers.
What are plasma protein products?
The proteins in plasma are used to manufacture specialized medicines, called plasma protein products. Donated plasma is separated into its components and refined. The finished products derived from the proteins in human plasma can be used to treat a variety of life-threatening conditions.
The plasma Canadian Blood Services collects is used to address the needs of patients in Canada. in two main areas:
- Transfusion: Some plasma is administered in hospital to treat patients with bleeding disorders, trauma and other indications. We collect enough plasma to meet all of the current hospital patients needs for these treatments.
- Fractionation: Using plasma as a raw material, a category of drugs called plasma protein products is produced by heavily manipulating and manufacturing large volumes of donated plasma into small amounts of finished product.
Among the plasma protein products, the one in highest demand is immune globulin (Ig). Ig is used to treat primary and secondary immune deficiency disorders, autoimmune disorders, neurological disorders and other diseases with an immune origin. If Canada’s access to Ig were compromised it would significantly impact Canada’s healthcare system, and the patients we serve.
Growing international demand
Canada, like many countries, relies heavily on the global market, of which the U.S. paid plasma industry plays the largest role,to procure plasma-derived drugs for Canadian patients. Without this system, there would be severe product shortages in Canada and around the globe. Canada, like other nations, is looking to increase the amount of plasma collected domestically to off-set this increasingly disproportionate reliance on the U.S.
To mitigate the fast-growing global risks to plasma sufficiency and associated plasma protein product shortages, we must continue to adapt our plasma collection plans.
We are seeing an increased use of these products as a result of advances in medicine that allow health care professionals to better diagnose patients, and as new medical uses are discovered.
Increasing the amount of source plasma collected through the networked national system that Canadian Blood Services manages and controls, is crucial to addressing the needs of patients and moderating the related impacts to Canada’s healthcare system, today and into the future.
The future of plasma in Canada
Plasma, just like whole blood, is a public resource that must be safeguarded for Canadians. There are no guarantees plasma donated to private companies will be used to help patients in Canada.
While paid and non-paid systems have coexisted in the U.S. for decades, the long-term impact that for-profit plasma companies will have on Canada’s volunteer, non-paid donor base for blood and plasma, remains of concern.
Among other functions, Canadian Blood Services is responsible for purchasing and managing a supply of plasma protein products for Canadian patients. To ensure increased plasma collections are effective in addressing the current domestic security of supply and sufficiency challenges, our approach must work within Canada’s voluntary, non-remunerated, publicly funded collections model.
As stewards of the public blood system, Canadian Blood Services has a proven track record as trusted supplier of plasma and plasma protein products for patients in Canada. For over 20 years, Canadian Blood Services has managed a safe, secure and affordable system of blood and blood components (like plasma).
Canadian Blood Services is the connection between the sincere generosity of donors and the heartfelt appreciation of patients. We value and appreciate the many donors who, as part of Canada's Lifeline voluntarily give of themselves to help patients in need.
For more information
Access the Plasma media resources to learn more or contact us at:
Tel: 1 877 709 7773