It’s been more than two years since we said goodbye to the staff and donors of Canadian Blood Services’ Thunder Bay plasma collection centre. October 30 we will be returning there again as part of a unique cross-province campaign to keep our blood system safe.
OPSEU is proud to sponsor the upcoming tour of Tainted by playwright Kat Lanteigne. A performed reading of the play will take place in seven Ontario cities October 18-30: Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, London, Windsor, Kingston, and Thunder Bay. All readings will be free to the public, but tickets should be reserved in advance. It will also be performed directly at Queen’s Park and in the center block of the Canadian Parliament to MPPs, MPs and their staff. Those attending the Ontario Health Coalition Action Assembly weekend will also be treated to a performance of the play on the evening of Saturday, October 18.
Tour dates and locations are at the end of this post.
Behind the issue
In 2012 CBS said it had a surplus of plasma and no longer needed the Thunder Bay clinic which collected more than 10,000 units per year. We noted at the time that CBS coincidentally was increasing its imports of plasma from the United States by 10,000 units. That includes plasma from individuals who were paid for their donation, a practice that remains controversial.
We were in for another surprise shortly after CBS shuttered its Thunder Bay clinic.
Heavens – even Russia is more sensible than Canada when it comes to paid blood donations.
As Health Canada takes a pause and organizes a roundtable on the issue in Toronto next week (of which we weren’t invited), Russia is now prohibiting paid donation except in cases where rare components and blood groups are being donated.
In Canada the issue has come to a boil within the last six weeks after the media discovered Toronto was about to get two private for-profit plasma donation centers that intended to pay $20 per donation. A third is also planned for Hamilton. This is clearly a major shift in how we handle blood donations in Canada, and there had been precisely no debate (beyond the confines of our little BLOG). It also runs counter to the recommendations of both Canada’s own Krever Inquiry and that of the World Health Organization.
Having been at the center of this debate for the past year, you might say we are a little miffed to be sidelined on this. For Health Canada, us unions can wait and make our submissions at a later date.
Of course this is the same Health Canada that inspected Sandoz’s Boucherville Quebec plant and found no issues, only to have the U.S. FDA come in and tell Sandoz to fix their problems or be prohibited from selling their product south of the border.
While Sandoz knew it had to shut down its line well in advance, it failed to give early notice to Health Canada, resulting in significant shortages of intravenous drugs at hospitals across Canada.
Apparently regulating fast food companies to improve population health is not an option for Health Canada, who recently told CBC News that the “fragile economic recovery” is an important consideration.
Health Canada was responding to a report by the Canadian Medical Association Journal which noted sodium levels were higher in Canada’s fast food outlets than their counterparts in other countries.
The Chicken McNuggets you eat in Canada have more than twice as much salt as the McNuggets in Britain. While Canadian fast food outlets brought in salads in response to growing health concerns, these salads have higher levels of salt than any other nation. Combined with high fat levels in the dressing, you might as well have had the fries.
This week ICES – the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences — issued what is effectively a wake-up call on Ontario’s spiralling diabetes epidemic. Hint: there may be a connection between these two stories.
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.
Canadian hospitals are scrambling to find sufficient quantities of certain generic drugs after the manufacturer recently slowed down production at its three Sandoz North American plants, including one in Boucherville, Quebec. The company is doing so to address issues raised by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Last November the U.S. FDA issued a warning letter to Novartis International stating the Canadian plant failed to follow appropriate written procedures designed to prevent microbiological contamination of drug products purporting to be sterile.
In the November 18, 2011 letter, the FDA stated specifically of the Boucherville plant “your failure to implement corrective actions and prevent future recurrence is indicative of an ineffective quality system.”
So where is Health Canada on this? Health Canada also inspected the plant AFTER the U.S. FDA and said they found no issues.