Would Pay-for-Plasma Open the Door to Another Blood Clinic in PG?
Prince George, B.C. – Was the closure of the Canadian Blood Services blood donor clinic in Prince George last year premature?
That’s the question being asked this week after B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake admitted he is open to allowing a pay-for-plasma clinic in this province.
Lake tells 250News that a company (Canadian Plasma Resources) has made some inquiries in B.C. but notes “it’s not an initiative of the ministry of health.”
“We do know that Canadian Blood Services currently gets over 70% of the plasma product that we use in Canada from the United States and it comes mostly from paid donors,” he says.
“So I certainly understand why they’re in the market to have a home-grown source of plasma products.”
And though some provinces, like Ontario, have taken a legislated stand against the idea, another, Saskatchewan, has welcomed the company with open arms.
As for the west coast, he says B.C. is taking a wait-and-see approach to the matter.
“We don’t have an ideology one way or the other in terms of acquiring plasma products in this way.”
But Dr. Graham Sher, Chief Executive Officer of Canadian Blood Services, says even if a plasma clinic were to open in B.C (most likely in an urban centre) it wouldn’t open up the need for further donations from Prince George.
“The office was very small and it collected very small volumes of blood,” he says.
“And because of its remote geographic proximity, or lack of proximity to our production facility in Vancouver, it was challenging for us to take the blood collected in Prince George, get it down to our manufacturing site in Vancouver and have it processed in time.”
In fact Sher says the small amount of plasma collected here “didn’t contribute any meaningful volume to the plasma that we sent to get manufactured.”
“In order to operate a plasma site alone, you need a very large urban population, high numbers of donors, with very high frequency.”
(He says the majority of the blood collected here was red blood cells, the demand for which is going down).
However he maintains closing the Prince George office was still a very difficult decision to make.
“It was not made lightly and we didn’t make it in Prince George alone,” says Sher.
“A couple of years prior to that we had closed a couple of other sites and last year we closed Prince George, plus three other sites in Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Atlantic Canada and moved several mobile collection sites.