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Canadian Blood Services says paid plasma clinics are harming voluntary donations

The Council of Canadians has been opposing Canadian Plasma Resources opening for-profit blood plasma collection clinics since March 2013.

Now CBC reports, “The head of Canadian Blood Services (CBS) says [there are] signs it is losing volunteer donors to a for-profit clinic that pays people to give plasma. Canadian Plasma Resources, a private operator that gives gift cards to plasma donors, opened a collection facility in Saskatoon in February. ‘There’s marked confusion as to who is operating in the Saskatoon market’, said Dr. Graham Sher, CEO of CBS. Donor numbers have also dropped in that city.”

Dr. Sher says, “We’ve begun to see some early impacts of having this private, for-profit enterprise operate in our jurisdiction. It is early evidence, but it’s certainly consistent with what other countries are seeing when you see large-scale ramp-up of the paid plasma industry side by side with the blood industry. We in Canada are at risk, if we don’t collect more of our own plasma, that we’re not going to be able to access the global supply of these plasma drugs. We have to collect more plasma, control it, and keep it in Canada for Canadian patients, which the private industry is not obligated to do. They will sell to the highest bidder.”

The Trudeau government approved the private, for-profit plasma collection clinic in Saskatoon this past February despite opposition from the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, and the Council of Canadians, including the Regina chapter.

The CBC article adds, “Blood Watch, an advocacy group that represents tainted blood victims across Canada, [has] called on federal Health Minister Jane Philpott to revoke the licence for the Saskatoon facility. [They] would also like to see a moratorium on approving more paid plasma clinics. Canadian Blood Services is also lobbying for a moratorium.”

Canadian Plasma Resources plans to open a for-profit plasma collection clinic in Moncton in March 2017. Clinics could also be opened in British Columbia and Nova Scotia. This past April, the Council of Canadians, Blood Watch and the Nova Scotia Citizens’ Health Care Network organized a public forum in Halifax against for-profit plasma clinics. The Council of Canadians has also expressed its support for Bill 43, legislation introduced by the Nova Scotia NDP that would protect the voluntary system and prohibit the sale of blood and plasma in the province.

The Council of Canadians was also part of the successful broad-based effort in 2013-14 to ban for-profit plasma clinics in Ontario.

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.”

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