The Telegraph continues maligning plasma donors

In an article published on November 17 by Cara McGoogan, and in an accompanying podcast, The Telegraph returns to decades-old, sensationalized information to disparage plasma donors in the U.S. as well as the safety and efficacy of lifesaving plasma protein therapies.

Plasma protein therapies, derived from donated plasma, replace missing or deficient proteins for hundreds of thousands of people worldwide facing primary immune deficiencies, hereditary angioedema, Alpha-1 Antitrypsin deficiency, certain neurological conditions, and bleeding disorders such as hemophilia, as well as countless individuals facing trauma and emergency medicine needs every day. Without these treatments, patients would either not be able to survive or would have a substantially diminished quality of life and productivity. Plasma protein therapies are truly unique, lifesaving biologic medicines.

The authors focus on tragic events that occurred in the 1970s and 1980s, while intentionally omitting any discussion of the ensuing decades of research advancements and new manufacturing techniques that ensure plasma-derived therapies remain safe. In fact, there have been no known transmissions of human pathogenic viruses by plasma derivatives for more than two decades. Quite simply, plasma-derived therapies are safe, effective, and essential to help men, women, and children in every community remain healthy and active in their lives.

This industry is also committed to the health and safety of every person who donates plasma at more than 1,000 plasma donation centers in the United States and in Europe, and it adheres to stringent regulations, both in the U.S. and internationally, so that only those who are healthy enough to donate plasma can do so. Additionally, PPTA member companies’ plasma collection centers are certified by the International Quality Plasma Program, a rigorous, voluntary program that goes beyond regulatory requirements to help ensure donor safety. Although different countries have varying regulations regarding plasma collection, no single regulatory scheme is better than another; all regulations are in place to ensure donor safety and the safety and efficacy of the finished therapies.

People’s reasons for donating their plasma are as varied as the diseases treated by access to plasma protein therapies, and PPTA and its member companies firmly believe that public and private plasma collection centers can coexist. Ultimately, what matters most is that enough plasma, donated by healthy and committed donors, is available so those who rely on access to plasma-derived therapies can live normal and healthy lives. A letter published in 2018 by more than two dozen ethicists and economists explains that compensating donors is ethical and is intended to recognize their commitment and inconvenience.

Considering the nearly 20 percent decline in plasma donations seen nationwide in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, our collective focus – including that of the news media – should be on encouraging plasma donation by all those willing to roll up their sleeves and donate, not perpetuating salacious, anecdotal, and often incorrect information that will only further delay a recovery in much-needed donations and potentially harm patients.


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