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 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.
Health Canada has received an application by an private for-profit company to operate two plasma collection sites in Toronto.
This comes on the heels of Canadian Blood Services closing down its last dedicated plasma collection site in Thunder Bay last week.
The company, ExaPharma, appears to be run by members of the Toronto Iranian community, the center’s manager an orthopaedic surgeon who had previously worked for the Iran Hemophilia Society.
Most are relatively new graduates, including President Yalda Riahi, a lawyer who was called to the bar in 2011 and works for a Vaughan-area law firm. Her background? According to the web site of Rotundo Di Iorio Quaglietta, she specializes in commercial and personal injury litigation.
While ExaPharma states on its website that it “has an uncompromising commitment to quality and strict adherence to all regulations and guidelines,” it appears to ignore one of the biggest World Health Organization guidelines – donations should not be paid.