Canadian Blood Services proposes ambitious plan to ensure a secure supply of Canadian plasma for immune globulin

Canadian Blood Services has shared an ambitious plan with governments outlining how we will ensure a safe and secure supply of plasma needed to manufacture immune globulin (Ig) for Canadian patients. The plan provides a roadmap for significantly increasing the amount of plasma we collect from Canadian donors, as per our voluntary, non-remunerated (unpaid), publicly funded collections model.

Canada is self-sufficient in plasma for transfusions. However, we only collect enough plasma to meet about 17 per cent of the demand for Ig, a critical lifesaving drug. Our goal is to increase Canada’s plasma sufficiency for Ig to 50 per cent. This would mean half of the Ig used by Canadian patients would be made from Canadian plasma.

What will this look like? By 2024, this could mean as many as 40 new plasma collections sites collecting more than 600,000 litres (more than 866,000 units) of plasma per year. Upwards of 144,000 new plasma donors will be needed annually to collect the significant additional volume of plasma the plan calls for.

While our plan will take several years to implement, we are confident Canadians will recognize its importance and help ensure the needs of patients in this country are met.

It’s important that we determine the right mix of plasma sources and not put all of our eggs in one basket — to mitigate risk, we need to maintain a diversity of supply. In Canada, many patients rely on Ig to enhance their quality of life, and half of these patients rely on it for their survival.

Plasma, just like whole blood, is a public resource that must be safeguarded for Canadians. Long-term security of the plasma supply for Ig 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.

For nearly 20 years, Canadian Blood Services has been responsible for providing Canada with a safe, secure and affordable system of blood and blood products, including drugs manufactured from human plasma; this is a duty we have delivered on consistently. As stewards of the blood system in Canada, we have a clear role in monitoring and planning for plasma sufficiency for the country and in meeting the needs of Canadian patients. We value and appreciate our donors who voluntarily give of themselves to help patients in need.

Our conversations with governments are ongoing, and we are looking forward to updating stakeholders and the public as the dialogue progresses. We anticipate being able to share additional updates as early as this spring.