A private company hopes to set up business in Ontario collecting human blood plasma -- and sell it for profit. Canadian Plasma Resources would pay donors about twenty dollars to tap their circulatory systems. The purchased plasma would be used for drugs or therapies to help hemophiliacs or burn victims. Plasma is now collected by Canadian Blood Services from volunteers. But it only collects about 30 per cent of the product needed and imports the rest from the US.
Harvesting human material for profit would be new to this country. Body parts are typically not for sale. It's illegal to sell sperm, eggs and organs. Some worry turning plasma into profit will have undesirable consequences -- perhaps eroding the voluntary blood donation system.
"The type of operation that's being proposed in Toronto right now, this is a pharmaceutical company that wants to collect plasma specifically to use for manufacturing commercial drugs, and these are critical drugs that are used every day by Canadians for the treatment of many life threatening diseases. This plasma never enters into the transfusion system. These are completely separate systems and completely separate types of operation, so we don't consider that there is any threat to the blood donation system".Health Canada spokesperson, Dr. Cathy Parker
Health Canada recently wrapped up cross-country consultations and is now working on a report about the proposal's safety. But even if it signs off on the idea it will then be up to the provinces to decide whether or not to give the green light.
• Round Table Discussion on Payment of Plasma Donors in Canada Health Canada
To talk about the issues surrounding compensation to plasma donors, we were joined by:
Barzin Bahardoust is the CEO of Canadian Plasma Resources.
André Picard is concerned about the proposed changes to the way plasma is collected. He writes about public health issues for The Globe and Mail. He's also the author of The Gift of Death: Confronting Canada's Tainted Blood Tragedy.
This segment was produced by The Current's Vanessa Greco, Theresa Burke and Leif Zapf-Gijle.
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