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Alberta to ban private, for-profit plasma collection clinics, other provinces should follow

Alberta Minister of Health Sarah Hoffman

The Council of Canadians has been opposing private, for-profit plasma collection clinics since March 2013.

Plasma is the largest single component of blood and contains over 700 proteins and other substances which are used to make medical products. These products are then used as treatments that can potentially help save the lives of people suffering from burns, shock, trauma, and other medical emergencies.

CBC reports, “The Alberta government introduced legislation Monday [March 13] to ban private, for-profit clinics that pay people for plasma donations. Alberta doesn’t have any private plasma clinics but the government says it is only a matter of time before the industry looks to this province. Ontario and Quebec have already enacted legislation banning clinics that pay donors for plasma.”

The Trudeau government approved Canadian Plasma Resources opening a private, for-profit plasma donation clinic in Saskatchewan in February 2016. The article notes, “Canadian Plasma Resources has been operating in Saskatoon for a year and the Alberta government believes the company intends to expand across Canada.”

And it highlights, “Officials say the paid plasma clinic in Saskatoon has discouraged people from voluntarily giving blood. That has created worries about what will happen to the Canadian blood supply if private plasma clinics expand across the country. Private companies are under no obligation to keep their plasma in Canada and can sell their supply to the international market.”

Our ally Blood Watch has also highlighted that Canadian Plasma Resources offers $25 gift cards to people to give blood plasma and that “this plasma is then exported to the US — where it can be sold for up to $300 on the international market, reaping huge profits for the private company.”

The Council of Canadians has opposed the clinic in Saskatoon and has also called on the British Columbia government to ban the clinics (especially given reports the company is eyeing Kelowna for their next clinic).

We will also be launching an online action alert shortly opposing the Canadian Plasma Resources clinic scheduled to open in Moncton, New Brunswick later this month.

We are also concerned that the Nova Scotia government appears open to these clinics.

Council of Canadians health care campaigner Michael Butler says, “Plasma must be treated as a public resource, not an opportunity for pharmaceutical industry profits, There is no reason jeopardize the safety and integrity of our voluntary blood system. Public, not-for-profit, voluntary blood and plasma collection is the safest and most ethical method of collection.”