Q: The Memorandum of Understanding of the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Governments & CBS
Q: What does paid plasma mean in Canada?
It means that a private corporation pays people to sell their blood plasma, which they export and sell for a profit.
Paid Plasma = Private Blood Collection
Q: What is the difference between a private blood broker and Canadian Blood Services collecting plasma?
Canadian Blood Services (CBS) is our national public blood agency. CBS collects blood & plasma on our behalf that is used for fresh transfusions and plasma used for medications otherwise known as “blood products.”
When CBS collects blood or plasma it is guaranteed to save the life of a Canadian because it is under our public system. Their sole purpose for collecting blood & plasma is to deliver life-saving treatment to Canadians.
When a private blood broker collects blood plasma they turn it into a “blood product” and sell it for a profit. It cannot be guaranteed that the plasma collected under a private model will be for our use because the source plasma has not been collected by CBS.
Q: Does a private blood broker help Canada become self-sufficient?
Private plasma collectors can never guarantee that the plasma they collect will be used for Canadians or that it will come back into the country.
One donor to a private blood broker = One donor lost to Canadian Blood Services.
Q: Does a private blood broker save our government money?
The cost of the plasma-based medications will still be just as expensive. There is no cost savings to privatizing plasma collection in Canada.
The provinces fund Canadian Blood Services. The Federal Government and Health Canada do not.
Q: What are some of the biggest concerns about private blood brokers?
A private blood broker in Canada is a competitor to Canadian Blood Services.
Think about it…why would we ever buy our own blood plasma back from a private blood broker when we can collect it through Canadian Blood Services and pick our own fractionator?
A fractionator is a biotech facility that turns the blood plasma collected by CBS into a medication for Canadians.
There is no way for a private collector to fractionate the plasma they collect in Canada. Therefore, they must export the plasma out of the country.
Once plasma leaves Canada under a private model there is no way to know whether it will come back to Canada. In fact, it cannot be determined whether the plasma-based medications that we are buying back are made from the blood collected in Canada.
In short – we are facing an active privatization of our public blood system created by partitioning off plasma collection to the private sector – without any guarantee we can use it.
CEO of Canadian Blood Services explains:
“When our plasma goes down to one of those two facilities in the US or Europe, our plasma is segregated, manufactured separately. The finished drugs are labeled “For Canadian Blood Services Use Only” and shipped back to us. Then the plant goes through purification and cleaning process, following which any other provider’s plasma goes through. There is no admixing of our plasma with the paid commercial plasma industry. That is true so that we can then assure ourselves that the product is coming from the plasma that we provide.” – Queen’s Park Testimony Supporting the Voluntary Blood Donations Act – 2014
Q: Why do we have the power to manage collection, choose the best fractionators in the world through our national blood system and serve Canadians?
Because we have control over the resource.
Q: What provinces have banned private blood and plasma collection?
Quebec banned private blood & plasma collection in 1994, as part of their civil code.
Ontario banned private blood & plasma collection and passed The Voluntary Donations Act in December 2014 in a unanimous vote in response to public outcry over Canadian Plasma Resources setting up private clinics.
Q: Does passing legislation to ban the private sale of blood or plasma limit access to blood products that we buy from the US?
What the law does is protect our public blood system from private corporations taking control of the point of collection and sourcing our donor base for profits.
Q: Has the approval of private blood collecting been open and transparent?
The public was not informed when this policy decision was being made. The story broke because the private plasma clinic, Canadian Plasma Resources, appeared beside a homeless shelter in Toronto and a journalist saw it while riding the streetcar in 2013.
“Big Pharma” of the plasma industry, the Plasma Protein & Therapeutics Association (PPTA), had lobbied the Federal Government behind closed doors in 2011. Health Canada made a decision without informing the public, doctors, nurses, patient groups, hospitals or Canadians.
The first time private paid-plasma collection and Canadian Plasma Resources was mentioned to the Board of Directors of Canadian Blood Services was in April 2013: the clinics had already been built.
Q: But Health Canada Says They Had A “Public Consultation?”
Ontario asked Health Canada to stop issuing the licenses for the private blood broker clinics, Canadian Plasma Resources, when they randomly showed up beside a homeless shelter in Toronto.
Bowing to public pressure, Health Canada allowed for a “Round Table” discussion in April 2013. This meeting was an invite only meeting with 16 people in attendance.
Health Canada had the “Big Pharma” of the plasma industry, PPTA, at the table with them to justify their policy decision. We know – our BloodWatch.org cofounder was there!
That means that our public blood policy was guided by private industry.
The private clinics then moved to Saskatchewan after being banned in Ontario.
There was no public consultation by Health Canada or by the Saskatchewan Government even though the opposition in Canada was and still is almost total.
The private plasma clinics simply “appeared” around the corner from pawnshops and payday loan stores in Saskatoon.
Q: What is “The Dublin Consensus”, the document that Health Canada uses as the reason to support private plasma clinics?
“The Dublin Consensus” is a private-industry-funded, three-page paper that was drawn up in Ireland by those who support private plasma collection.
It is not a scientific study. It is not a public health study.
The WHO did not write it – they attended the meeting as observers.
The European Blood Alliance (EBA) is a proper, public health document published in 2013 that exhaustively supports the case for voluntary blood systems. Canadian Blood Services is an international member of the EBA.
Q: Does privatizing blood collection compromise the safety and integrity of our blood system in Canada?
It fractures our system and creates an “insecurity” of domestic supply because Canadian Blood Services has to compete for donors against a private corporation.
It takes away life-saving donations that would otherwise be guaranteed to Canadians through our public system.
Safeguarding the integrity of our public blood system is a fundamental tenet of the Krever Inquiry, which includes the importance of the one and the only national blood operator: Canadian Blood Services.
Q: What other countries allow private paid plasma?
United States, Germany, Austria & the Czech Republic.
Q: Has private paid plasma had an impact in these countries?
In Germany & Austria the European Blood Alliance Report released in 2013 details the fact that when private paid-plasma clinics were introduced the voluntary system “lost” donors and could not regain them back into the public system.
In the US, there are multiple examples of poor and vulnerable populations selling their blood plasma to make ends meet. Read The Atlantic article “The Twisted Business of Donating Plasma”.
Q: But there is a private blood clinic in Winnipeg, right?
Yes. It was cited/grandfathered into the Krever Inquiry as a “rare circumstance.” The facility’s (Cangene) main focus is to collect a very rare type of blood to make a rare medication that helps prevent women from stillbirths. It was not intended to set a precedent.
Q: Should plasma donors be paid?
Human tissue is not meant to be a revenue stream for private corporations.
We uphold Justice Krever’s recommendations as to how Canada’s blood system should be managed. These are also echoed by the WHO – World Health Organization.
♥ *Blood is a public resource.
♥ *Donors should not be paid.
♥ *Sufficient blood should be collected so that importation from other countries is unnecessary.
♥ *Access to blood and blood products should be free and universal.
♥ *Safety of the blood supply system is paramount.
The ethical considerations are also imperative; it is not the role of poor and vulnerable populations to be sourced for their blood, plasma, kidneys or stem cells.
Private plasma companies often source student populations. This is problematic as it may “culture” our new generation of donors that they need to be paid in order to save a life.
Many people will need blood or blood products in their lifetime and we don’t want to lose a generation of altruistic donors from our public blood system. The “give the gift of life” is just too important.
Q: Is there a place for “Big Pharma” in the blood supply system?
As a fractionator. A fractionator is a biotech facility that takes plasma and makes it into a medication. Canadian Blood Services has our Canadian medication batch-made with vetted fractionators on our behalf and this ensures that our plasma is not ad-mixed with any other donations.
This is the best option and the one recommended in the Krever Inquiry.
Q: What is a blood broker?
A blood broker is a company that pays people to sell their plasma to them and then they sell that plasma on the international market. They can either sell the plasma for research or to other companies.
Or, they make a deal with a fractionator to make a medication out of the plasma they have bought and then they try and sell that medication.
In the case of Canadian Plasma Resources, they plan to pay Canadians to sell their plasma, then send it to a laboratory in Texas (so it will leave Canada untested). Then, it will be shipped to Germany to a facility called Biotest AG, who will turn it into a medication and then try and sell it back to Canadian Blood Services.
There is no way for Health Canada to verify that it is, in fact, our Canadian plasma being used under a private model once it leaves our borders.
Q: How many people were impacted by Canada’s tainted blood crisis?
Over 30,000 Canadians were infected with hepatitis C and 2,000 with HIV.
It is estimated that 8,000 people will die as a result of our tainted blood crisis.
Q: Justice Krever’s Inquiry was released almost 20 years ago – Is it still relevant?
Justice Krever’s Inquiry is known around the world as the pinnacle health document to run a safe, public, voluntary system: this includes collection of blood and plasma for all uses – including plasma-based medications.
Q: But when Justice Krever wrote his report there weren’t technological advancements in testing and treating blood plasma, so it’s dated, right?
In 1997 we had the technology we have today to inactivate the known viruses out of plasma-based medications.
We had safe blood products for almost ten years at that point.
Krever’s Report – Volume 3 – details this.
Q: Why doesn’t Canada collect enough plasma for our needs?
Canadian Blood Services stopped collecting enough plasma on our behalf, which is why we have been importing 70% of our medication from the United States. There is no “shortage of plasma” in Canada.
Canadian Blood Services started to buy a majority of our plasma-based medication from the US because it was cost-effective. This decision has made us over-reliant on foreign plasma product. If there is a disruption in the US supply chain, Canadians would not have access to our own product because we haven’t secured a strong plasma donor pool.
Private paid plasma in Canada doesn’t help change this. It creates competition.
If the source to self-sufficiency is Canadian veins, it is the sole responsibility of CBS to collect it
Q: How will we collect more plasma?
CBS is launching a major Canadian plasma collection strategy to work towards
self-sufficiency and will triple plasma collection over the next few years. We need to take steps to ensure they are successful.
Self-sufficiency needs to be gained through our public blood system so that we are guaranteed access & use.
Héma-Québec has already launched their own provincial plasma strategy called Plasmavie. They have had no trouble retaining regular plasma donors – proving success can come through our voluntary donations system.
Q: What sets you apart from other advocacy & patient groups?
We are advocates & a watchdog.
BloodWatch.org represents and consists of tainted blood survivors, safe blood advocates and patients.
While we support Canadian Blood Services as our national blood operator, it is our job to ensure that both CBS and our governments are open, honest and transparent around decision-making.
Q: Why is this work so important to you?
Our blood system came at an incredible cost with the loss of thousands of lives because of our tainted blood tragedy.
We do not want the legacy of Canadian families impacted by tainted blood to be thrown away because private corporations want to make a profit off of Canadian donors.
Undermining our blood system introduces risks that we cannot afford to take.
We have a vast amount of expertise about how our blood system is run in Canada and it is important to us that the public is informed.
Safeguarding the integrity of our Canadian blood system and securing our domestic supply is something worth fighting for.
Q: How was BloodWatch.org founded?
BloodWatch.org was cofounded by veteran blood advocate & tainted blood survivor Michael McCarthy, tainted blood survivor Andy Cumming & playwright Kat Lanteigne. The three met while Ms. Lanteigne was researching her play, Tainted.
Nine months before Tainted opened, the private plasma clinics “appeared” on the streets in Toronto. Galvanized by the story of the tainted blood crisis, they used the platform of the play as a point of advocacy and launched a public fight to have the private clinics shut down.
In 2014, Mr. Cumming & Mr. McCarthy accompanied a provincial tour of Tainted, where they shared their stories across Ontario and urged the public to support passing The Voluntary Blood Donations Act, which bans the private sale of blood and plasma.
The law was unanimously passed at Queen’s Park in December of 2014.
The fact that the private blood clinics were then approved in Saskatchewan despite almost total opposition across Canada has been devastating to the tainted blood community, patient groups and veteran blood advocates who adamantly oppose privatizing blood collection in Canada.
BloodWatch.org was officially launched in response to the clinics once again appearing—this time in Saskatoon—without any public consultation or support.
Q: Where do you get funding to do your work?
From people like you! So please, donate. There is a lot more work to be done!
*We do not receive funding from the pharmaceutical industry. We are not lobbyists for Canadian Blood Services.