Our commitment to increasing plasma sufficiency in Canada
There is a looming threat to the supply of plasma needed to produce plasma protein products for Canadian patients today and in the future. Demand for plasma is rapidly growing in Canada and globally. Countries need to do more to increase the amount available to manufacture medicines made from the proteins in human plasma. Canadian Blood Services, as a national body responsible for plasma sufficiency in Canada, intends to significantly increase plasma collections.
The amount of plasma we currently collect only meets about 13-14 per cent of the need for immune globulin (Ig), which is one of the plasma protein products in highest demand. The finished products we buy are made from plasma donated by paid donors in the United States. Buying plasma is not unique to Canada and provides a means of ensuring security of supply for patients. Without this system, patients who depend on these drugs would not have ready access to the therapies they need.
Our vision for plasma collection
Canadian Blood Services is planning to increase the amount of plasma we collect within our voluntary, unpaid system—by ensuring we operate in the most effective way possible. To achieve the right balance (for Canada) requires having products derived from plasma collected from voluntary, unpaid Canadian donors, as well as having products manufactured from plasma collected on the global market, where donors are paid. Access to diverse product sources, and to a secure Canadian supply of source plasma, are both necessary to address potential disruptions or threats.
Our stance on paying for plasma
Canadian Blood Services does not pay donors for blood, plasma or any other kind of donation. Though we do receive finished products, which are derived from plasma collected in the United States where donors are paid, it has never been our practice to pay donors within Canada. We truly value and appreciate the countless donors who give of themselves to help patients in need. Under the right conditions, we believe more Canadians will volunteer to donate plasma, within our voluntary, unpaid system.
We are actively working to establish a collections model that can significantly increase our plasma collections through voluntary donations. We are counting on Canadians to help us get there, for all of the tens of thousands of patients we serve.
Paying for blood donations is not in question
It is important to distinguish plasma donation from blood donation, something many who have weighed in on this issue have failed to do.
There is no question and no discussion about paying donors to donate blood. Thanks to dedicated volunteer, unpaid donors, Canadian Blood Services is able to address hospital demand and manage a national inventory that delivers blood and blood products to Canadian patients across the country.
When a patient needs blood in Canada, it is there because Canadian Blood Services collects it from unpaid donors, processes it, and manages its safety quality and distribution to hospitals. None of the blood used for transfusions comes from paid donors.
Is plasma collected from paid donors safe?
The plasma industry’s experience over the last three decades shows that drugs made from plasma donated by paid donors are as safe as those made from plasma donated by volunteer donors. Collection practices for paid donations adhere to a comprehensive set of regulatory requirements, no different to those which exist in the voluntary, non-remunerated blood system, as well as voluntary industry standards.
In addition to screening donors and thoroughly testing the plasma collected from them, multiple steps are built into the plasma separation process to inactivate, and purify it. The separated plasma is rendered through a series of processes that eliminate any organisms, viruses, bacteria, pathogens or other contaminants, before it is recombined into finished product.
All the major patient groups who rely on plasma protein products in this country, like the Canadian Hemophilia Society, the Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders, or the immunodeficiency organizations, acknowledge that there is no difference between plasma protein products made from plasma donated by paid donors or plasma donated by unpaid donors. The manufacturing processes used render them equally safe. The main concern shared by all is that there be an adequate supply of safe product for the patients who rely on them.