Securing Canada’s plasma supply
We collect plasma for two main purposes:
- Plasma transfusions
- Making medications from plasma
Plasma for transfusion
Canadian Blood Services collects and processes plasma for transfusion to patients in hospitals across the country. Plasma transfusions are often used in urgent situations to help treat conditions like liver failure, severe infection and excessive bleeding.
Plasma for medications
Medications that are manufactured from plasma are called plasma protein products. Immunoglobulins, albumin and coagulating factors are some examples. Plasma medications require many thousands of plasma donations because each kind of medication is made from a different protein found in plasma. Watch this video and learn about how plasma is used to make medications.
To meet the needs of hospitals and patients in Canada, we:
- Collect plasma to ship to pharmaceutical manufacturers who use it to make plasma medications on our behalf for use exclusively in Canada. These medications are licensed by Health Canada and returned to Canadian Blood Services for shipping to the hospitals and clinics we serve.
- Bulk purchase additional medications which are manufactured by the global biologics industry using plasma they have collected themselves. We supply these medications and other related products, which we have also purchased on the global market, to hospitals for patient care in Canada.
Collecting more plasma
In recent years we have been seeing a steady increase worldwide in the need for plasma to make specific kinds of plasma medications called immunoglobulins — primarily due to the growing number of conditions they can treat.
Currently, there is a global shortage of immunoglobulins and plasma needed to make them, so it is essential that blood systems around the world increase their plasma collections substantially.
Canadian Blood Services has been working to increase plasma collection in Canada with governments’ support. We are enhancing our plasma collection programs at our blood donor centres and opening new dedicated plasma donor centres.
We now operate five plasma donor centres in; Kelowna, B.C; Lethbridge, Alta; and Brampton, Ottawa and Sudbury, Ont, with six more to follow by 2024 — including new centres in Abbotsford, B.C. and St. Catharines and Vaughan, Ont. opening this Spring.
In 2022, we announced our blueprint to increase plasma sufficiency and bring greater security to Canada’s supply of immunoglobulins in the shortest time possible to protect patients in Canada who depend on them. Through these activities we will reduce Canada’s dependency on the global market for these medications and, for the first time ever, lifesaving immunoglobulins will be made in Canada for patients here.