CANADA – Spanish pharmaceutical company Grifols has struck a 15-year renewable collaboration agreement with Canada’s national blood authority to increase the supply of immunoglobulins (Ig) in the country the company has said.
Under the agreement, Grifols, which uses blood plasma to make medicines, will work with Canadian Blood Services (CBS) to also source the plasma in Canada.
The 15-year agreement with Grifols specifies that none of the plasma collected in Canada, nor the immunoglobulins made by Canadian plasma, can be sold internationally.
“This agreement very importantly has built into it the important protections and safeguards that the national blood system needs to ensure plasma collected in Canada stays in Canada to serve Canadian patients and that there are no negative impacts on the blood system that we operate today,” said CBS CEO Dr. Graham Sher.
CBS also specified in their news release that it won’t be purchasing raw plasma from Grifols but specifically finished immunoglobulins.
The agreement brings a range of opinions, with some leaders of patient organizations quoted in the national blood organization’s news release in support of CBS’ agreement with Grifols.
Grifols will help CBS meet national targets for plasma supply by both collecting paid-for plasma and by turning Canadian plasma into immunoglobulins —a form of specialized medications called plasma protein products– for Canadian patients.
CBS currently relies on plasma donations to meet national demand. But it only collects about 15 percent of the plasma needed.
As a result, volumes of Immunoglobulins plasma-protein therapies used to treat a wide range of immunodeficiencies and other medical conditions should reach 2.4 million grams by 2026, accounting for about a fourth of the country’s needs.
The agreement comes as CBS says it is struggling to meet national supply demands for plasma, the protein-rich liquid in the blood that helps blood components circulate throughout the body, reports Canadian news outlet CBC.
Blood plasma is used by people with immune deficiencies and rare blood disorders, kidney and liver diseases, various cancer patients, and others, according to CBS.
Health Canada says on its website there’s currently “not enough plasma collected in Canada to meet the demand,” and most of the plasma products distributed by CBS and Héma-Quebec are purchased from US manufacturers and made from US paid-donor plasma.
CBS collecting only 15 percent of plasma needed
CBS currently relies on plasma donations to meet national demand. But it only collects about 15 percent of the plasma needed, according to its website.
As a result, it bulk buys plasma protein products, including immunoglobulins, from the global market to meet the remaining national demand.
Plasma is primarily used in two ways: It can be transfused into people directly at hospitals and can be made into specialized medications like immunoglobulins.
So far, CBS has five plasma donor centres in Ontario, Alberta and B.C. and is planning to open six more to try and boost the quantity collected by donation in Canada.
“Through its newly signed agreement with Grifols, the national blood collection organization will be able to reach “a minimum target of 50 per cent sufficiency in the shortest time possible,” according to a news release.
This agreement means Grifols will open an unknown number of plasma collection centres in Canada. It acquired its first plasma donation centre in Canada earlier this year.
Grifols will produce the protein products in North Carolina until its Montreal facility is fully operational in 2026. It says it will be the only large-scale commercial manufacturer of plasma products in Canada.
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