Blood is becoming big business in Canada and Nova Scotian veins could be tapped next.
The privately-owned Canadian Plasma Resources has met with provincial government officials in Nova Scotia about opening pay-for-plasma clinics in this province. Canadian Plasma Resources’ CEO confirmed to the NDP that the Liberal government is supportive of the idea.
Dave Wilson, health critic for the NDP, condemned that idea in a press release sent out Friday. Wilson called on Health minister Leo Glavine to take action and prevent private plasma clinics from opening in Nova Scotia.
“Blood should be considered a public resource, not a private one for exploitation and profit,” writes Wilson.
Plasma, the liquid component of the body’s blood that contains red blood cells, is worth a lot of money. Plasma proteins are used in a number of medicinal products, which is where CPR’s bought-blood would be heading.
Annually Canada collects roughly 190,000 litres of plasma through donations. We only need 50,000 litres of that for transfusions, but manufacturing plasma protein products requires 1.1 million litres a year. To meet those needs, “about 885,000 litres of plasma protein products are bought annually from US or European companies.”
The Saskatchewan-based Canadian Plasma Resources is aiming to tap into that demand and jumpstart Canada's for-profit plasma industry by opening 10 private collection centres across the country.
The first of those started operations last month in Saskatchewan. Patients who are accepted by CPR can donate plasma at most once a week, and are given a $25 Visa gift card for their contribution. Unsurprisingly, this is an attractive offer for low-income or impoverished individuals.
When a similar for-profit clinic tried to open up in Toronto in 2013, Michael McCarthy (former vice-president of the Canadian Hemophilia Society and lead plaintiff for Canadians Affected by Tainted Blood) explained what was at stake to the Toronto Star:
“The location of this Toronto clinic is being proposed next to a homeless shelter—it will be the homeless, the economically challenged and students who will find the $20 fee an attractive incentive upon which to base the decision on whether or not to donate blood...There is no good reason for this policy other than profit at the expense of the poor.”
The World Health Organization has set a goal to eliminate paid blood and plasma donations worldwide by 2020.