Canadian Blood Services told to defend donor plasma collection
Canada wide- Safe blood advocates, tainted blood survivors, public health care allies, and labour representatives presented to the Canadian Blood Services (CBS) board today on the need to keep Canada’s blood and plasma collection system public. They also called for CBS to continue adhering to both the Krever Inquiry- which investigated Canada’s tainted blood scandal- and international recommendations (including from the World Health Organization) which state that blood and plasma should be collected from 100% voluntary donors.
As a result of the tainted blood scandal in the 1980s and 1990s that left 30,000 Canadians infected with HIV and/or hepatitis C, CBS was given the role of national blood and plasma collector. It is their role to ensure blood and blood products are safe and available for everyone in Canada. But this changed in February of 2016 when the Saskatchewan government welcomed a for-profit, private plasma collector to set up shop in the province and pay donors for their plasma.
Canadian Blood Services’ CEO, Dr. Graham Sher, has recently come under scrutiny when he commented to reporters in May, that CBS would also consider paying donors for their plasma. Although CBS later retracted that statement, there continues to be concern in the blood safety and public health care community that CBS is defending and supporting the call for private, for-profit plasma collection in Canada.
Advocates who presented today issued 4 demands:
- Canadian Blood Services take an absolute position against for-profit plasma collection in Canada and that CBS remains the sole collector of blood and plasma;
- Canadian Blood Services must send a letter to Health Minister Jane Philpott declaring their concerns over the for-profit collection of plasma from paid donors in Canada;
- Canadian Blood Services should support the efforts of the blood safety and public health advocacy community to pass provincial and territorial legislation banning the collection of paid plasma in every province and territory in Canada; and,
- Canadian Blood Services must allow for more CBS blood clinics to collect non-remunerated plasma so that volunteer donors have a place to donate.
“The Canadian Health Coalition, BloodWatch.org and our allies fully support the expansion of CBS’ non-remunerated plasma collection programme. Currently there are only 7 CBS plasma collection centres in Canada. If Canada is to fully implement the recommendations made by Justice Horvath Krever, then more plasma collection sites must open so we can collect enough plasma to be self-sufficient,” says Adrienne Silnicki, National Coordinator, Canadian Health Coalition.
There have been no public consultations or studies completed to show the impacts a paid plasma collection industry could have on Canada’s current voluntary system. Studies performed in other countries have shown a negative impact on the public voluntary system when a second-tier of plasma collection begins remunerating donors.
“We need the federal government to show leadership and do the right thing. They need to defend our public blood and plasma collection system by revoking the license they gave to CPR,” says Kat Lanteigne CoFounder of BloodWatch.org
“It’s simple, in Canada we don’t sell body parts like organs or tissue, we shouldn’t be selling blood or blood products” says Silnicki. Among the presenters supporting only a public, donor blood system were Alberta’s Friends of Medicare, The Council of Canadians, OPSEU, Bloodwatch.org, The Canadian Health Coalition, CUPE, and a tainted blood survivor/co-infected hemophiliac.