Paid Plasma Debate: The Atlantic describes how desperate donors deceive plasma screeners

When it comes to collection of plasma for pharmaceutical purposes, Canada appears to be on the verge of becoming more like the United States. That may not be a good thing.

The private for-profit Canadian Plasma Resources has a plan to operate paid plasma donations centers across Canada that would compete for donors with the volunteer Canadian Blood Services.

They have recently set up an Astroturf group with several patient groups that are backed by big pharma. The Ontario Plasma Coalition has even registered as a third party advertiser for the Ontario Election.

There is no question that the lobby efforts are on to stop the new government from reintroducing a bill that would prohibit paid plasma and blood donation in the province.

The last bill died when the election was called in May. Originally it had all-party support although the Tories appeared to be wavering just prior to the election call.

Now The Atlantic magazine has published its own expose of the state of plasma donation in the United States.

Written from the perspective of a “plasser” – a twice-weekly paid donor – it tells the story of desperate people who lie and seek means to deceive screeners in order to get payment for their plasma. It also talks about the donor’s own health being placed at risk through such frequent visits.

The United States produces 70 per cent of the world’s plasma supply and the market is rapidly expanding as companies realize there are significant profits to be made tapping into the veins of the poor.

“Gabriella, a 51-year-old mother of three, began plassing eight years ago after she was laid off in a cutback of State employees,” writes author Darryl Lorenzo Wellington. “She admits to having lied to pass the screening after realizing that she had become too thin to pass the weight test, and ‘put on extra clothes,’ just to squeak past the weight minimum.”

Far from being shortages, as some of these pharma-backed patient groups allege, The Atlantic reports that the number of paid donation centers “ballooned” during the great recession, donations leaping from 12.5 million in 2006 to more than 23 million in 2011.

To read the full Atlantic Story, click here.

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