Statement from Health Canada on the establishment of an expert panel that will look at issues related to the collection of human plasma needed to produce life-saving products


The Expert Panel on Immune Globulin Product Supply and Related Impacts in Canada will objectively assess the security and sustainability of Canada’s immune globulin product supply

July 7, 2017  - Ottawa, ON  - Health Canada

Ottawa - Canada faces a constant need for blood and plasma donations. Human plasma can be obtained from regular whole blood donations or through equipment that collects only plasma. Plasma is used to make a range of life-saving products such as immune globulin, a critical drug for treating Canadians who have immune deficiencies and other conditions. 

Protecting the safety and security of Canada’s blood supply, including plasma products, is a priority of Health Canada and its partners in the Canadian blood system: Canadian Blood Services, Héma-Québec and the provinces and territories. 

Concerns have been raised about market conditions for immune globulin and the long-term sustainability of Canada’s immune globulin supply. To objectively assess these concerns, Health Canada has established an expert panel to:

  • assess the long-term security and sustainability of Canada’s immune globulin product supply, 
  • look at the potential impact on the Canadian blood supply should plasma collection be permitted to expand significantly in Canada, and
  • examine emerging international practices and lessons learned that are relevant to the Canadian context.

The Chair of the panel is Dr. Penny Ballem. Dr. Ballem brings a wealth of knowledge to the panel from her experience in haematology research, as a physician, and as a Clinical Professor at the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Medicine. Dr. Ballem also served six years as Deputy Minister of Health for British Columbia, which included being its Liaison Deputy Minister to the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Council of Deputy Ministers of Health regarding Canadian Blood Services.

Dr. Francine Décary joins the Panel with a distinguished record as a haematology research scientist and blood system executive and expert. She was the founding President and Chief Executive Officer of Héma-Québec, and has received awards for scientific and management excellence including the Officer of l’Ordre national du Québec (2008) and Officer of the Order of Canada (2012).  Dr. Décary is a past chair of the Canadian Society of Transfusion Medicine and the lnternational Society of Blood Transfusion.

Health Canada looks forward to receiving the panel’s assessment. We are committed to continuing to work with our provincial and territorial partners to ensure that Canadians have access to safe blood and blood products when they need them.

Additional panel members may be named in the coming weeks. The panel will deliver a report to Health Canada before the end of March 2018.

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