A questionable private plasma clinic is getting closer to opening in Moncton, which would make it only the second of its kind in the country.
It’s controversial because it will pay donors for rolling up their sleeves, but some say it’s necessary to keep up with demands.
“The amount of plasma we are get from voluntary donors in Canada is not meeting demand for patients,” said Dr. Barzin Bahardoust, CEO of Canadian Plasma Resources.
Plasma is used in transfusions and to make drugs that treat a number of traumatic injuries and disorders. In New Brunswick, donations can only be made in Saint John – but that will change if this clinic opens its doors in 2017.
While construction is expected to wrap up in the coming days, Canadian Plasma Resources isn't expecting to receive conditional authorization from Health Canada until the end of February. If it’s successful, it will have to pass several inspections before it is fully licensed.
If all goes to plan, the clinic could be open as soon as March.
The company operates one clinic in Saskatoon, paying donors $25 per plasma deposit. Kat Lanteigne, executive director and co-founder of Bloodwatch, a not-for-profit organization which advocates for a voluntary, public Canadian blood system, says the notion is hurting the number of volunteers donating to Canadian Blood Services.
“We are going to have to slowly but surely start providing more supply to Saskatchewan, because now they have a competitor that's depleting their supply provincially,” Lanteigne said. “Now that's going to happen in New Brunswick, and we simply can't afford to do it.”
Bloodwatch warns paid donations aren't always used to treat Canadians. In this case, private plasma is shipped overseas to be used in pharmaceuticals, though the company says it hoping to work with Canadian Blood Services in the future.
“Canadian companies should be producing at least part of the products, and hopefully someday all of the products we use in this country for Canadian patients,” Dr. Bahardoust said.
Canadian Blood Services says it won't follow the private clinic model, despite a fear of losing donors.
“There are no guarantees plasma donated to private companies will be used to help patients in Canada. Canadian Blood Services does not and will not pay donors for blood, plasma or any other kind of donation," Canadian Blood Services said in a statement.
New Brunswick Health Minister Victor Boudreau said earlier this year he does not plan on blocking the private clinic.
The clinic says up to 40 jobs could be created when its fully operational.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Cami Kepke.