We all deserve a reliable plasma supply
Plasma For All is dedicated to the promotion of policies that will ensure a safe, secure, and sufficient supply of plasma for plasma therapies for all patients who rely on those therapies.
“A secure supply of plasma is a cornerstone of a modern twenty-first century health care system,”
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“For some people, an incentive of being altruistic is enough, but it’s not enough for enough people in terms of plasma,”
“Canada’s blood donation system was and is completely volunteer-based and we are self-sufficient when it comes to red blood cell collection. The issue of collecting plasma is much different.”
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“As countries race to find effective treatments and methods of preventing COVID-19, some hope has come along in the form of blood plasma transfusions from people who have recovered from the coronavirus”
What we do
We promote policies, especially remuneration for plasma donation, that have a proven track record of ensuring a safe, secure, and sufficient supply of plasma for plasma-derived medicinal therapies.
Each year, most countries are becoming more and more dependent on plasma therapies made with American plasma, where donors are paid. Canada is now more than three-fourths so dependent, Australia more than half, New Zealand more than a tenth, and so on. This overreliance is a threat to patients. The shortages of immunoglobulin in Canada and the United States in 2019 raised our awareness. The 15-20% reduction in plasma donations in the U.S. due to SARS-Cov-2 moved us to action. It is now clear that countries need to change their outdated policies against compensation in order to provide patients with the therapies they need.
What is blood plasma?
Blood plasma is the straw-coloured liquid in our veins. While it is mostly water, it also contains about 2,000 proteins, 15-20 of which we use to manufacture plasma-derived medicinal therapies like immunoglobulin, albumin, and clotting factors. These are essential, often life-saving therapies. It takes a lot of donations to make these therapies — more than 120 for a one-year’s supply of intravenous immune globulin for one patient, for example, or more than 1,300 such donations for a patient with hemophilia! These donations take much longer than an ordinary blood donation — about an hour and a half to two hours, with 40 minutes “needle-in” time. We are finding more and more uses for the proteins found in our plasma that we currently make therapies from, with additional indications added nearly every year. On top of that, medical scientists continue to try to find ways to use the other nearly 2,000 proteins that we currently do not have indications for. Everyone expects demand to continue to increase. We want to make sure that enough plasma is available to meet not just today’s patient demand, but tomorrow’s as well.
The myths and the facts.
Myth #1: Paying for plasma is unsafe
Every country that uses plasma therapies relies on remunerated plasma, without exception. Every national blood operator, and every medical body, agrees that therapies made from remunerated plasma are, to use the words of the CEO of Canadian Blood Services, “just as safe” as those made with non-remunerated plasma. Since modern testing and viral inactivation and removal procedures were implemented over 25 years ago, there hasn’t been a single transmission of any infection through plasma therapies.
Myth #2: Paying for plasma will deplete public supply
Critics of paying for plasma sometimes worry that allowing this model will result in fewer non-remunerated blood donations. There is hardly any evidence that this is true, and a great deal of evidence that this is false. For example, when Czechia legalized pay-for-plasma in 2008, they saw a seven-fold increase in plasma donations, with no impact on blood donations. In Canada and the U.S., the introduction of pay-for-plasma collection centres also had no impact on non-remunerated blood collections. The same holds for Germany. Meanwhile, only the countries that pay are self-sufficient in therapies made from plasma.
Myth #3: Paying for plasma is exploitative
Critics of paying for plasma sometimes suggest that offering payment exploits the poor and vulnerable. This charge requires us to believe that plasma donation represents an undue risk, an undue inducement, or an unfair division of the benefits from trade. But plasma donors receive about 30% of the revenue from a litre of plasma, while the companies receive about 5%. That’s a fair deal. Plasma donation is not risky, and it is not plausible to suggest that $30-50 is too much inducement. Instead, we should respect donors and the choices they make, and realize that removing what people regard as their best option makes no one better off.
Paid plasma is safe.
According to every national blood operator around the world, plasma therapies made with remunerated plasma are just as safe as those made with non-remunerated plasma.
There is no country in the world self-sufficient in plasma therapies unless they pay donors. Not one.
The U.S. is responsible for more than 70% of the entire world’s supply of plasma used to manufacture plasma-derived medicinal therapies. Add Germany, Austria, Czechia, and Hungary — the other countries that permit payment — and you get up to 89%! Every country that uses plasma therapies imports these therapies from the countries that permit payment.
Paying donors is the only policy that works to reliably secure a safe and sufficient supply of plasma.
The countries that permit payment are not only the only fully self-sufficient countries in the world, they also together account for more than 89% of the global supply of plasma.
Paying donors is cheaper than not paying donors. A lot cheaper. At least two-to-four times cheaper!
American plasma centres collect, on average, 60,000 litres per year. In other countries, paid centres reliably collect 30 to 40,000 litres per year. Unpaid centres, by contrast, collect 15 to 20,000 litres per year, but have the same number of staff, sometimes more. Unpaid centres also spend a lot more on donor recruitment, on advertising, and on reminding donors about their appointments. Paid donors not only come more frequently, they also bring their friends.