Canadian Blood Services and HÉMA-QUÉBEC jointly respond to Bayer Advisory Council on Bioethics report

Ottawa, ON/St. Laurent, QC, May 2, 2000 - Canada's two blood operators, Héma-Québec and Canadian Blood Services (CBS) jointly responded to the Bayer Advisory Council on Bioethics Report on Plasma Product Supply in Canada, issued today.

Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec would like to thank the Bayer Advisory Council on Bioethics for their in-depth examination of the plasma collection system in Canada. The report will stimulate needed discussion and raise public awareness of the important issues surrounding plasma self-sufficiency in Canada.

The Bayer Advisory Council on Bioethics document, entitled "Plasma Product Supply In Canada: A Bioethical Analysis" captures in a concise way some of the larger issues facing Canada with respect to self-sufficiency in plasma. The budget for plasma-derived products in Canada represents approximately $274 million per year, and continues to increase every year. Plasma derived products are used to treat a number of different conditions, including certain types of cancer, bleeding disorders, burns and immune-deficiencies.

While Canada is self-sufficient in plasma for transfusion, it collects only one third of the plasma destined for fractionation that it needs. The excess fractionated products that are needed to make up the difference are purchased from licensed plasma fractionators, primarily in the United States. Both Héma-Québec and Canadian Blood Services take the issue of plasma self-sufficiency very seriously.

CBS and Héma-Québec have begun developing plans to look at self-sufficiency based on plasmapheresis collections in Canada. It is a very complex issue which involves a solution that will not be found or implemented quickly.

Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec are looking to successful international models of plasma self-sufficiency based on "gratis" contributions. Given the demographics of Canada, both operators believe that there are many opportunities to expand plasma collections and move effectively to self-sufficiency while maintaining a system that encourages Canadians to give altruistically, rather than for monetary gain or compensation of some kind.

The report also addresses the use of intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) in Canada. The demand for this product has grown exponentially in the last number of years, and supply is limited. Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec have been working with their stakeholders in regards to uses of IVIG. The two organizations are gathering data on the use of IVIG and are preparing for a Consensus Conference on the use of IVIG that will be held in the fall of 2000.

Canadian Blood Services is a national, not-for-profit charitable organization whose sole mission is to manage the blood supply in all provinces and territories outside of Quebec. CBS operates 14 blood centres, two plasma collection centres and countless blood donor clinics.

Héma-Québec, a not-for-profit organization, is committed to providing Quebeckers with sufficient quantities of safe, high-quality blood products in order to meet the needs of hospitals in all regions of Québec, and to providing recognized expertise and specialized services in the field of immunohematology.


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