Paying for plasma: Concerns raised about clinics that pay for blood products
The Nova Scotia NDP and an advocacy group for blood safety are pressing for a vote on the new Voluntary Blood Donations Act, or Bill 43.
The proposed legislation would ban private, for-profit, pay-for-plasma clinics from opening in Nova Scotia.
The national advocacy group BloodWatch says it’s important legislation. Bill 43 received a second reading, but no vote, last Wednesday.
“Private blood brokers are here to take our plasma and to sell it,” says Kat Lenteigne, the co-founder of BloodWatch. “It’s not for us, so it’s not going to help one Canadian citizen.”
BloodWatch says paid clinics exploit the poor and vulnerable. They also believe it's a safety issue.
"It is a scientific fact that voluntary blood donation is safer, safer for the patient, and it also provides the healthiest blood and plasma," said Lenteigne.
Canadian Blood Services disagrees. The organization says while they do not pay for blood or plasma, they do recognize that drugs made from plasma donated by paid donors are just as safe as those made from volunteer donors.
The NDP says the Liberal government needs to make a decision soon.
"There hasn't been any real word on the direction the current government is going to take, if they're going to allow for a paid clinic to open up in Nova Scotia, or if the government is against it," said Dave Willson, Nova Scotia NDP health critic.
But Nova Scotia Minister of Health Leo Glavine says there’s no rush.
“At the present time, there's been no request for setting up a service in the province," said Glavine.
Concern widened Tuesday afternoon after reports that Canadian Blood Services Chief Julian Sher now says competition may force CBS to pay for blood products.
“We are calling into question the leadership of Canadian Blood Services, and Dr. Sher's role in bringing private paid plasma to Canada," said Lenteigne.
Similar laws are already in place in Ontario and Quebec and Lanteigne has been travelling across Canada to raise awareness about the risks of for-profit blood and plasma.
Canadian Blood Services says it wants to collect more plasma from voluntary donors, but they are unclear if that would generate enough volume.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ron Shaw.