Friday, July 3, 2020

Time is now to protect blood and plasma supply

For several years, the New Brunswick Union (NBU) has been sounding the alarm on the dangers of allowing for-profit plasma collection clinics to operate in New Brunswick.
One such clinic was opened in Moncton under the Gallant government and, thus far, the current Blaine Higgs administration has not taken any action.
There are several reasons why for-profit plasma collection clinics are harmful to the province, its citizens and the national blood and plasma supply. The current COVID-19 pandemic has made the need to ban this practice in our province and nation-wide even more apparent.
Below is a letter NBU President Susie Proulx-Daigle has sent to all members of the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly regarding this issue. We encourage all New Brunswickers to read the letter, educate themselves on the topic and contact their MLA, if they so choose, to help protect a vital part of our nation’s healthcare system.

Letter:

During the current COVID-19 health crisis, the supply of blood and plasma through voluntary, non-remunerated collection in Canada is critical to the health and safety of Canadians.

Creating a competitive market for blood donors and permitting for-profit plasma companies – like the one in Moncton – to lure donors away from our public blood system by offering payment and other financial incentives, endangers our ability to secure a healthy, national, voluntary donor base, while also compromising Canadian Blood Services’ plasma collection strategy and our ability to increase plasma self-sufficiency.

In addition, convalescent plasma – plasma from a person who has recovered from an illness – is also in need at this time. After recovering from an illness, your system produces a set of antibody molecules that are now present in your plasma that were not there before. In terms of COVID-19, convalescent plasma can be used to help treat patients with current cases. We need this to be collected by Canadian Blood Services for use in developing a vaccine rather than being collected and sold to the highest bidder on the international market.

It’s also imperative that we protect our supply to produce medication derived from plasma to help treat Canadians who depend on it.

Given the benefits of protecting our system and helping combat this pandemic through the collection of convalescent plasma, we’re urging the provincial government to bring forward the Voluntary Blood Donations Act. This piece of legislation will ensure Canadian Blood Services is the sole entity that can collect blood and blood products from Canadians. It would mean for-profit clinics – like the one in Moncton – would not be permitted operate in our province.

In May 2019, Canadian Blood Services testified before the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology and publicly stated that the private, for-profit collection of plasma will not secure plasma or plasma-derived products for Canadian patients. Instead, plasma collected by for-profit companies in Canada is commercialized and sold on international markets.

Throughout this pandemic we have done what is best for citizens and our healthcare system. Passing the Voluntary Blood Donations Act is another step in the right direction.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

President of the New Brunswick Union