Ensuring access to immunoglobulins in Canada
Dec. 1, 2022 (OTTAWA) – In light of information pickets and incorrect information sharing, we believe it is necessary to restate why we have made an agreement with Grifols, what this agreement means for Canada and what it does not.
What the agreement means
- Patients’ needs come first. There is a global shortage of immunoglobulins. This agreement ensures patients in Canada will continue to have access to the lifesaving medications they need.
- More plasma will be collected in Canada years sooner than if Canadian Blood Services acted alone.
- For the first time ever, immunoglobulins will be made in Canada.
- Canadian Blood Services will control the Canadian-based supply chain for immunoglobulins.
- Immunoglobulins made in Canada will stay in Canada. They cannot be sold offshore.
What it does not mean
- We are not privatizing Canadian Blood Services’ operations.
- We are not giving up control of Canada’s blood system.
- We are not changing how we operate. Canadian Blood Services will continue to collect blood, plasma and platelets from volunteer donors who are not paid.
- This agreement will not erode the voluntary blood donor base. Only one in 81 people in Canada donates so there is room to grow, and thousands more new blood and plasma donors are needed.
- Paying plasma donors does not mean medications made from their plasma are unsafe. During manufacturing, plasma from all donors (paid and unpaid) is cleaned and purified to remove and inactivate potential infectious agents.
Today’s information pickets are taking place during our biannual, public open board meeting. These meetings give stakeholders and community members across Canada a chance to voice their opinions about the national blood system to our board of directors, who are elected by the provincial and territorial ministers of health, and our executive management team. Anyone who wishes to be heard is welcome to submit their interest to present in advance. The groups that organized the pickets opted not to participate in the open board meeting today but have presented in the past and are familiar with the process. Canadian Blood Services has also offered dates to meet and discuss their concerns; however, our offer has not been accepted. We remain open and committed to listening and having a meaningful two-way dialogue.
As the national blood operator, Canadian Blood Services is responsible for ensuring access to a safe, secure and affordable supply of blood and blood products in Canada. It is our job to act when there is risk to the supply and make sure that no patient goes without the treatment they need.
Immunoglobulins are medications made from plasma (a component of blood). In Canada, thousands of people depend on them to live, and many have no other treatment option. Globally, there is a shortage of these medications which has only worsened during the pandemic. The need to collect more plasma and to have immunoglobulins made in Canada is now urgent. To protect patients, we are increasing Canada’s supply of immunoglobulins as quickly as possible.
With funding from governments, Canadian Blood Services will collect more plasma by opening 11 plasma donor centres by 2024 (we’ve already opened five of them). In addition, we are enhancing our plasma collection programs at our blood donor centres — all based on our voluntary blood donation model.
There is a growing commercial plasma industry in Canada, including the country’s first large-scale plasma manufacturing plant in Montreal, operated by global industry leader Grifols. Grifols has supplied Canada with plasma medications for decades.
After a rigorous competitive process, we signed an agreement with Grifols, whereby plasma they collect in Canada (via their paid donor model) will be made into immunoglobulins at their new plant, exclusively for Canadian Blood Services and for patients in Canada.
Our agreement ensures plasma collected by Grifols in Canada will benefit patients here. This plasma will be used to make immunoglobulins only for patients in Canada. The global shortage of immunoglobulins and plasma needed to make them is a mounting problem that will put lives at risk in future if nothing is done. This agreement is supported by governments and patient groups that represent thousands of people in Canada who require these lifesaving medications.
A recording of today’s open board meeting will be made available on website here. Recordings are typically posted online within a few days. Those interested in learning more about how we are bringing greater security to Canada’s supply of immunoglobulins, and our agreement with Grifols, are encouraged to review the links to the additional resources below, which are publicly available on blood.ca.
To learn more about plasma donation and the many ways you can make all the difference with Canada’s Lifeline, visit blood.ca.
Patient group support
- Media release: Blueprint for greater security of immunoglobulins for patients in Canada (Sept. 7, 2022)
- Backgrounder: A blood system blueprint for greater security of immunoglobulins for patients in Canada
- 25 Years after the Krever commission, our commitment to patients remains
- Video: How are plasma protein and related products made? (Run time 2:15)
- Securing Canada’s plasma supply
- Plasma and the blood system supply chain
About Canadian Blood Services
Canadian Blood Services is a not-for-profit charitable organization. Regulated by Health Canada as a biologics manufacturer and primarily funded by the provincial and territorial ministries of health, Canadian Blood Services operates with a national scope, infrastructure and governance that make it unique within Canadian healthcare. In the domain of blood, plasma and stem cells, we provide services for patients on behalf of all provincial and territorial governments except Quebec. The national transplant registry for interprovincial organ sharing and related programs reaches into all provinces and territories, as a biological lifeline for Canadians.
FOR MORE INFORMATION