New Brunswick pay-for-plasma clinic set to recruit donors for inspection period

Pay-for-plasma clinic set to recruit donors

FREDERICTON — A controversial company that pays people for their blood plasma is set to begin recruiting donors for a just-built New Brunswick facility.

Canadian Plasma Resources CEO Barzin Bahardoust says Health Canada has reviewed and approved the processes at their new Moncton collection centre, but inspectors still need to see it in operation before granting a licence.

“The inspectors have requested for us to start the recruitment of donors, so when they do come in about another month, we would have donors at the centre, and they can see the centre live basically,” said Bahardoust.

He said they will use social media to attract about 30 donors, starting May 1, for the inspection period.

“Any units collected during this period, between the time that we open our doors to donors and up to the inspection date, will not be used for further manufacturing because basically establishment license has not been issued by Health Canada up to that point,” he said.

Bahardoust said they hope to get approval by early June.

Health Canada confirmed Friday Canadian Plasma applied last November to add the Moncton facility to their existing authorization and Blood Establishment Licence, and said the application is “under review and will include an inspection by Health Canada.”

“The inspection verifies that the facility meets all of the safety requirements in areas such as donor screening, testing, collection procedures, storage of collected plasma as well as quality management systems,” it said in a statement. 

All blood collected during the training and inspection period must be discarded or donated for research purposes.

Donors can give plasma as often as once a week, for which Canadian Plasma Resources gives them either a charitable tax receipt or a gift card of between $25 and $100 per donation.

New Brunswick Green Leader David Coon says there shouldn’t be a price for people making medical donations.

Ontario and Quebec don’t allow pay-for-plasma clinics, and last month Alberta passed legislation for a similar ban.

Canadian Plasma Resources currently operates a donation clinic in Saskatoon. It had two clinics in Ontario, but they were shuttered by provincial legislation in 2014.

At the moment, blood plasma has to be shipped to either the United States or Europe for processing because there is no fractionation facility in Canada. 

“We work with a German company that has facilities in Germany and the United States, but we will ship that plasma to Germany for fractionation,” Bahardoust said.

He said a Korean company is currently building a fractionation facility in Montreal, but it won’t be available for use until 2020 at the earliest.

Bahardoust said they hope to sell the finished product to Canadian Blood Services and Hema-Quebec, and will bid on tenders issued by each agency.

“Our goal is to strictly sell immune globuline in Canada. Canada is the largest importer of immune globuline globally. No one is more reliant on foreign sources than Canada,” he said.

Bahardoust said if they don’t win those tenders, they’ll most likely sell in western Europe. However, he said prices there are substantially lower than in Canada and the cost to manufacture in Canada is high.

Canadian Blood Services is pushing a plan to increase its own plasma collection, at as many as 40 new plasma collections sites by 2024.

“Plasma, just like whole blood, is a public resource that must be safeguarded for Canadians,” it said in a statement in January. “Long-term security … can only be achieved through increased plasma collection by the publicly funded and publicly accountable not-for-profit blood system operated by Canadian Blood Services.”

Blood plasma is the yellowish fluid that remains after red and white blood cells and platelets are removed. Fresh plasma is used for transfusions, while processed plasma is turned into a variety of pharmaceutical products.

The Moncton facility is expected to employ 30 full time staff at full production and eventually require about 2,500 regular donors.

Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press

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