PPTA Letter to American National Red Cross

Dear Mr. Hrouda:
We read with interest your recently posted, “securing the future of the U.S. blood supply: an open letter to the health care community.” We share your goal of having an accessible, safe and sustainable supply of transfusable blood components. It is in everyone’s interests to ensure that the nation’s blood supply is secure. We also recognize the challenges to the blood community in responding to a changing environment in transfusion therapy to support the patients’ needs.

As the association that represents manufacturers of plasma protein therapies (PPTs) and the collectors of source plasma, which is the predominant starting material for the manufacture of these therapies, we thank you for acknowledging our contributions to healthcare. However, your characterizations are not helpful to either of our sectors in a patient-focused environment, and in fact may have a deleterious effect.

Plasma protein therapies are used around the world for patients whose health, and sometimes lives, depend on them. Many patients have rare, heritable conditions that require life-long infusions of PPTs to improve and often sustain their lives. Other patients have neurological conditions for which there are no other therapies. In addition, patients in more acute situations, such as burns or surgeries, are treated with PPTs. The good news is that more patients are being diagnosed and treated. As clinical need for PPTs increase, the need for plasma to manufacture these lifesaving and sustaining therapies increases as well. We are thankful to the blood community for providing recovered plasma for manufacturing PPTs. However, due to the changes in transfusion therapy, the available volume of recovered plasma has been decreasing. To meet clinical needs, we must increase the collections of source plasma. In your letter, you state that fewer than 10 percent of eligible donors donate. It should be our mutual goal to increase overall participation in donor programs. Donors of both blood for transfusion and plasma for manufacturing use are special people. We are grateful to donors and want to encourage both blood and plasma donations.

In the recent past, we heard concerns from the blood community about “crowding out.” We have cooperated with America’s Blood Centers and Georgetown University researchers to study the effect on donations in areas that include both blood centers and plasma centers. Initial results indicate that crowding out does not occur in most areas studied with a surprising finding that there may be a slight crowding in effect. We are most willing to continue supporting factual monitoring of this interface.

You are correct that we consider plasma for manufacturing use a global resource. We also view that there is a global responsibility for providing plasma for the manufacture of PPTs. Most of the world’s supply of plasma currently originates in the United States. European countries need to do more to encourage plasma donation wherever possible to provide therapies for patients. PPTA has advocated for several years for steps to achieve more plasma collection in Europe, including:

  • Establishing plasmapheresis programs for the purpose of collecting plasma for
    manufacturing use and outreach campaigns aimed at current and potential plasma
  • Recognizing that having enough plasma available for manufacturing use is essential
    and allowing the coexistence of publicly- and privately-owned plasma collection
  • Permitting systems that allow plasma donors to be compensated for their effort and
    dedication to providing lifesaving material for patients around the world

We welcome your support in encouraging increased donations in Europe. We view it as essential that we work together to ensure that patients’ needs are met for both blood for transfusion and PPTs, and that donors are recognized for their generosity.
As I am relatively new to my position, I have not yet had the opportunity to meet you. I welcome the chance to meet with you, in person, and continue dialogue on this important issue.

Sincerely yours,
Amy Chevalier Efantis
President and CEO

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