Playing political games with the safety of our blood system

The story in quotes:

“IVIG is a product made from large pools of human plasma and it is not possible to claim with certainty that there is no risk of infectious disease transmission.” – From Guidelines for the Use of Intravenous Immune Globulin (IVIG) for Neurologic Conditions, by Tom Feasby, Brenda Banwell, et al. April 2007.

“WHO recommends the following integrated strategy for the provision of safe blood and blood products and safe, efficacious blood transfusions…Collection of blood from voluntary, non-remunerated blood donors at low risk of infections that can be transmitted through blood and blood products, the phasing out of family/replacement donation and the elimination of paid donation.”—From Screening Donated Blood for Transfusion-Transmissible Infections, Recommendations, World Health Organization, 2010.

“We value your time. There are several ways we would like to show you how much we appreciate your continued generosity. You may choose one of the easy methods for collecting your earnings: direct credit to your bank account, cheques, or prepaid Visa cards.” – Website, Canadian Plasma Resources (ExaPharma), a private company that has applied to Health Canada to open two Plasma Donor Clinics in Toronto.

“Based on current projections, Canadian Blood Services must plan to reduce our plasma collection program by approximately 10,000 units this year.” – Canadian Blood Services press release announcing the closure of the last dedicated plasma donor clinic in Canada (Thunder Bay), March 29, 2012

“In 2010/11 Canadian Blood Services started a pilot program to purchase surplus recovered plasma from the United States (collected by organizations with a FDA license) which will continue in 2011/12.” Report to Canadians 2010/11, Canadian Blood Services. In 2010/11 CBS imported approximately 10,000 units of plasma, and was projecting that to increase to 20,000 units in 2011/12.

“They learned too late that it had been manufactured, not from plasma collected in their own country, but from persons in other parts of the world and that some of those sellers were, in fact, Arkansas prison inmates.” – The story of the United Kingdom’s Carol Grayson, who lost her husband through tainted blood product manufactured from imported U.S plasma. “Bloody Awful: How money and politics contaminated Arkansas’s prison plasma program,” Arkansas Times, August 16, 2007.

“Speaker, I can assure the people of this province that they have absolutely no cause to be concerned about the safety of these blood products. In fact, you will remember, Speaker, that the Canadian Blood Services was set up specifically in response to the tainted blood scandal. I can assure you that the patients of this province will be unaffected by this decision.” – Health Minister Deb Matthews, Hansard, April 17, 2012

“Auditor General Jim McCarter, who released a damning report this week on Ornge, says that when he presented his draft audit in September, the Health Ministry wasn’t convinced his concerns were serious. Matthews also failed to act or ask tough questions after receiving letters from Ornge in January 2011 that detailed its plans to create a complex web of companies, some of which would be led by Ornge managers and members of its board, McCarter said.” – “Ornge Furor Leaves Matthews Black n’ Blue,” London Free Press, March 28, 2012

“Sustainability of universal health care requires reliance on evidence.” – Health Minister Deb Matthews, September 24, 2011 (from webchat transcript, Ontario Liberal Party)

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