This latest report from UK think tank Adam Smith Institute looks at why blood plasma donors should be paid.
The ASI’s latest paper, authored by Georgetown University academic Peter M. Jaworski, explains why blood plasma donors should be remunerated: Blood plasma is used in a wide, and growing, range of life-saving therapies. It is now being trialled to treat Covid-19, including by the United Kingdom’s National Health Service. There are significant global shortages of blood plasma. Demand is growing at a rate of 6-10% per year. Three-quarters of people do not have access to the appropriate plasma therapy, largely outside of developed countries. Shortages are significantly exacerbated by the World Health Organisation’s policy — adopted by the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and some Canadian provinces — to rely exclusively on Voluntary Non-Remunerated Blood Donations (VNRBD). The United Kingdom imports 100% of its supply of blood plasma, Canada (84%), Australia (52%), and New Zealand (13%). They are increasingly dependent on imports for blood plasma from countries that remunerate donors. This inflates the global blood plasma price, making it unaffordable for low to middle income countries. The United States, which allows remuneration of donors, is responsible for 70% of the global supply of plasma. Together with other countries that permit a form of payment for plasma donations — including Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Czechia — they account for nearly 90% of the total supply. The dependence on a small number of countries is a serious health security threat. Non-remunerated donations are estimated to be 2-4 times more expensive than remunerated collections, because of the expense of recruiting and retaining donors, including through marketing. Australia, for example, could save $200 million annually by importing all blood plasma. There are significant global shortages of plasma therapies. The growing global demand cannot be met without remuneration. The evidence is clear that remunerating individuals for blood plasma donations is safe, would ensure a secure supply of plasma, does not discourage non-remunerated blood donations, and would provide significant patient benefits, including peace of mind. If the U.S. exits the WHO, should make a review of Voluntary Remunerated Plasma Collections a condition for rejoining. In order to ensure a safe, secure, and sufficient supply of plasma therapies, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand should adopt Voluntary Remunerated Plasma Collections (VRPC): VRPC means individuals are paid, in cash or in-kind, to give plasma of their own free will. It also means collections using modern deferral and testing techniques, such as deferring higher-risk donors and advanced viral detection tests. VRPC would allow the Canzuk countries to at the very least become self-sufficient, and potentially contribute to the humanitarian goal of increasing the global supply of blood plasma for low to middle income countries.Read Full Report