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Statement from Canadian Blood Services: Payment for Plasma Donation

(Ottawa) – Public debate on whether Canadians should be permitted to be paid for plasma donations has resurfaced. While Canadian Blood Services does not pay donors for blood, plasma or any other kind of donation, it does recognize:

  • Drugs made from plasma donated by paid donors are just as safe as those made from plasma from volunteer donors.
  • Access to the commercial paid plasma market is essential in ensuring enough supply so that Canadian patients continue to receive the lifesaving therapies they need.

While some have argued that a parallel paid donation system for plasma could mean fewer volunteer donors, the experiences of other countries suggest both paid and voluntary plasma donation can safely coexist. We will continue to monitor these practices closely.

Background

All the plasma Canadian Blood Services collects is used for patients in Canada. This collected plasma is used for two purposes:

  • Transfusion: Some plasma is transfused directly into patients to treat bleeding disorders, trauma and other indications. We collect enough plasma to meet patients’ needs for these treatments.  
  • Plasma protein products: Plasma is also used as a raw material to produce a category of drugs called plasma protein products. Large volumes of plasma are heavily manipulated and manufactured into small amounts of finished product. Within this category of drugs, the products in highest demand are immune globulins. We only collect enough plasma to meet about 25 per cent of the demand for immune globulins. The remaining plasma needed to make these drugs comes from paid donors in the United States.  

This is not a new practice and has been common for decades. It is safe and is acceptable to patient groups who use these products and recognize this practice ensures security of supply (as outlined in the Dublin Consensus statement).

Canada, the United States and Europe have strict standards for collecting plasma and turning it into pharmaceutical products. That means all donors (paid or volunteer) must meet specific criteria to be eligible to donate, and their donations are thoroughly tested. As an added safeguard for patients, manufacturers also use technology that eliminates viruses. Most of the products we buy are sold worldwide and are subject to regulation and licensing in multiple countries, including Canada.