Save our Blood Plasma Service
To: Daniel Poulter - Minister of State for Health Services
Dear Daniel Poulter, Don't let private companies profit from blood plasma donations. Scrap your plan to sell off Plasma Resources UK and keep our Blood Plasma Service public.
Why is this important?
The government is planning to sell off Plasma Resources UK, the firm responsible for supplying blood plasma products to the NHS, to a private contractor. We, the undersigned feel that this is unacceptable for the following reasons: 1. Blood plasma is essential for the treatment of many conditions, including burns, shock and major trauma; immune disorders and neurological conditions; protecting unborn children from haemolytic diseases. Possibly best known plasma product is Factor VIII used to treat around 3,000 haemophilia patients. 2. The profit impetus may compel any company taking over services to cut corners in order to make return. This could have devastating consequences for patient safety should contaminated, poorly packaged or improperly labelled products reach frontline healthcare services. The next part of this section is a fuller statement about Blood Plasma and why it is so important to stop the sell off of Plasma Resources UK. It shows how the Government has already split plasma services away from the National Blood Service so that part of what was a unified Blood Transfusion Service can be sold off for profit. Read on: First of all an apology. I started this petition on 38 Degrees after seeing and signing a similar one on the Government ePetition website. After doing a little research of my own and receiving an email via this site, it is clear that the Blood Transfusion Service (NHSBT) is not being sold off. However, Mr. Lansley has been party to breaking up NHSBT in 2011. It is the part that he has separated off that he is looking to sell off. That company is Plasma Resources UK (PRUK), the principal supplier of plasma and plasma products to the NHS. Blood and Plasma are obviously ‘joined at the hip’. When a donor gives a pint of blood, 55% of that fluid by volume is plasma. Much of today’s service is about producing blood and plasma products for the treatment of a wide range of patients. Treatments using plasma products are no less important than those using blood products. You have only to ‘google’ medical uses of plasma to find out the wonderful way its products can influence patients lives, such as the treatment folk suffering from burns, shock and major trauma; immune disorders and neurological conditions; protecting unborn children from haemolytic diseases. Possibly best known plasma product is Factor VIII used to treat around 3,000 haemophilia patients. The work of producing these valuable plasma products (there are hundreds of them) has been carried out by the Bio Products Laboratory (merged with the Blood Service in 1993 and now called Bio Products Limited (BPL)). Plasma Resources UK (PRUK) is the Health Dept company that manages the supply of blood plasma from the US through US based British owned company DCI Inc, which has been necessary since the BSE outbreak and concerns about people developing vCJD. For some years there has been a particular strategy to reduce the dependency of NHSBT's blood products division (BPL) on government subsidies. ‘Our Fractionated Products division (BPL) operates in competitive markets across the UK and globally with other multi-national pharmaceutical companies. A key strategic goal has been to move this part of our organisation into a profitable trading position. This was achieved during 2008/09 thanks to the continued growth in sales and throughput. Our future plans seek to sustain and build on this performance.’ Just a year later this part of the Blood Service was hived off to a separate division from NHSBT: ‘On 1 January 2011 Bio Products Laboratory was transferred into a new legal entity, Bio Products Laboratory Limited, a 100% owned subsidiary of Plasma Resources UK Limited (PRUK), which is 100% owned and managed by the Department of Health.' There are concerns about ‘blood and plasma markets’ in the US. The cost to DCI includes payment to donors. The market has also been described as working like a monopoly or cartel, where at one extreme price can be fixed or competition can be fierce leading to among other things attempts to reduce costs and all the inherent dangers in that. This market in the USA has been described as representing “everything wrong with American-style capitalism”. It is too early to know what relationship a privatised PRUK would have with the NHS and hence what the implications to the NHS might be in terms of cost and guarantees about supply. I recall that a few years ago there were fears of a flu epidemic (I think) and it was found that vaccine originally destined for this country was redirected to other countries where the Pharmaceutical Company could get a higher price. Could the same happen with a privatised Plasma Products company? If the time comes when we can recommence plasma donations in this country, would anyone sign up if their altruistic gift was given to a company concerned with making a profit from it?