There are reports that Canadian Blood Services (CBS) may be negotiating a secret deal with a global plasma corporation to buy privatized paid plasma collected in Canada. This move would undermine public trust in CBS, threaten the voluntary blood and plasma donor network, and put patient safety at risk.
For-profit plasma corporations treat human plasma as a commodity to buy and sell. These financially motivated corporations usually set up collection businesses in poorer neighbourhoods to exploit marginalized communities and then make a huge profit by selling that plasma on the global market to the highest bidder. This exploitation undermines the safety and sustainability of our voluntary blood and plasma collection system operated by CBS.
Our blood and plasma collection system was established following the tainted blood scandal in the 1980s where over 30,000 Canadians were infected with HIV and AIDS and Hepatitis C from contaminated blood products. The Krever Inquiry into Canada’s national blood supply, the International Federation of the Red Cross, and the World Health Organization Expert Consensus Statement have found that blood and blood products like plasma should be collected through voluntary, unpaid donations.
The deal being considered by CBS would expand and entrench the for-profit paid plasma business in Canada. It would undermine CBS’s network of voluntary collection sites where many CUPE members work. And it would increase the risk of transfusion-transmissible infections in our blood and plasma supply. CBS’s unpaid blood and plasma collection prioritizes the checks and balances that minimize this risk.
CBS has been exploring this privatization deal behind closed doors with little transparency or accountability. CUPE and other stakeholders were excluded from a key consultation on plasma sufficiency early this year. Major decisions that put the safety of our future blood and plasma supply at risk must be made based on thorough, widespread, and transparent consultation processes. CUPE has written a letter to the Chair and Co-Chair of the CBS board advocating against plasma privatization.
Take action to protect Canada’s voluntary and unpaid blood and plasma supply: