Will the agreement allow British Columbians to be paid to donate plasma?

In other provinces, private companies pay $30 to $65 per donation every two weeks. But critics say a pay system exploits the poor and vulnerable.

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A deal between Canadian Blood Services and a for-profit company to collect plasma from Canadian donors could “undermine” voluntary blood collection in British Columbia, warn advocacy groups that support Canada’s public blood system.

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Kate Lanteigne, CEO of Blood Watchsaid his organization is calling on BC Health Minister Adrian Dix to stop Grifols, an international pharmaceutical company based in Spain, from establishing paid plasma clinics in BC.

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“It’s a massive betrayal,” she said of the recently announced Canadian Blood Services (CBS) deal.

Both BC and Ontario have legislation prohibiting paid plasma collection, but as a first reported in The Globe and Mail last week, the laws contain an exemption for CBS and its agents.

In a statement sent in response to a Postmedia News interview request on Friday, CBS confirmed that it believes its agreement with Grifols complies with British Columbia law, as the company will act as agent for CBS to collect plasma for Canadian use.

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“Grifols will clearly indicate in all collection documentation (including the donor consent form) that it is collecting plasma for the further manufacture of products to benefit Canadian Blood Services and to meet Canada’s national health needs. and Canadian patients,” the CBS statement said.

Grifols will help Canada reduce its reliance on imported immunoglobulins made from donated plasma, which are used to treat bleeding disorders, burn patients and certain types of cancer, among other medical conditions, a spokesperson said. Press release of the society.

Canada currently imports up to 85% of these drugs, primarily from the United States, where payment for plasma donation is common.

CBS CEO Graham Sher was quoted in the statement as saying the agreement with Grifols will “develop a much-needed national end-to-end supply chain for immunoglobulins” and “protect” the national blood system.

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But critics think paying British Columbians to donate plasma will do the exact opposite.

BC Health Coalition coordinator Usman Mushtaq said research shows paid plasma clinics can reduce voluntary plasma donations. People who are vulnerable or living in poverty are also more likely to sell their plasma.

Canadian Plasma Resources, which operates in Saskatchewan, allows people to donate up to twice a week and pays $30 to $65 depending on the volume and frequency of donations, depending on the Compensation scheme published on its website.

Mushtaq said there are many ways CBS can increase plasma donation in British Columbia that doesn’t involve “jumping into the private market.”

“Grifols is interested in this deal because it intends to profit from people’s plasma,” he said.

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CBS website lists a BC public donation center in Kelowna. Another center should open in Abbotsford in the spring of 2023.

Lanteigne said the opening of new CBS donation centers across the country is expected to increase Canada’s plasma self-sufficiency to around 25%. The deal with Grifols, according to the company’s statement, will bring it up to 50%.

“If CBS can increase supply to 25% by opening 11 centers, that means they just have to open 11 more and we’ll be 50% self-sufficient,” she said. “But instead, they struck a deal with a Spanish pharmaceutical company to turn the blood of Canadians into a commercial enterprise.

As reported in The Globe and Mail storythe deal with CBS could essentially give Grifols a de facto monopoly on paid plasma collection in British Columbia and Ontario.

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In a statement, the Department of Health acknowledged legislation prohibiting groups from paying blood and plasma donors.

“The law was put into effect to protect the public blood system from private sector encroachment, to ensure that plasma collected from British Columbians is used to treat patients in Canada, and to prevent entities deprived of exploiting an essential resource and the people who generously donate blood.”

But the statement did not say whether Grifols would be allowed to pay British Columbians for plasma, saying only that the province looks forward to “further discussions” on additional steps to increase plasma sufficiency.

In a statement, the Network of Rare Blood Disorder Organizations said it “fully supports” CBS’ efforts to form public-private partnerships for plasma collection to meet patient needs in Canada. The group receives funding from pharmaceutical companies.

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Several studies have shown the links between poverty and plasma donation, with an estimate in 2021 paper by researchers at the University of Michigan, calling it a “common economic coping strategy among low-income Americans.”

Last year, the United States blocked Mexicans from entering the country to sell their blood plasma. Grifols and another company that runs many plasma clinics near the border have sued. According to a article in ProPublica, the lawsuit says the restrictions have resulted in a 10% reduction in the amount of plasma collected in the United States, which in turn is contributing to a global shortage of plasma.

A 2019 investigation by ProPublica and other outlets found that thousands of Mexicans cross the US border to donate blood sometimes twice a week, earning up to $400 a month.

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