Plasma clinic cancels Ontario expansion due to proposed blood-payment ban

TORONTO – A private plasma clinic in Toronto says it is cancelling plans to open seven other locations in Ontario but will try to keep operating despite the province’s proposed ban on payments to people for their blood and blood plasma.

Canadian Plasma Resources chief executive Barzin Bahardoust says the company aims to keep its three clinics that are already open — two in Toronto, one in Hamilton — going without offering compensation.

But he expects that without the $25 in gift cards or charity donation the company had offered, it will be too hard to attract enough donors to make the business viable.

Bahardoust says the three clinics were “pilots” but that any further involvement in Ontario is now off the table as the company looks to instead expand in unspecified provinces in Western Canada.

He says the company hopes the province will allow them to collect donations for research purposes only, which is exempted under the government bill.

If passed by the Liberal majority government, the legislation would see Ontario join Quebec in banning plasma payments.

Bahardoust said the feasibility of the clinics depends on bringing enough donations through the door.

“Economically, we need to recruit a large number of donors and we need to make sure that these donors are committed and repeat donors,” he said in an interview Monday.

“And to be able to do that we need to compensate these donors for their time.”

“It has not really worked in any other jurisdiction” without that, he added.

The company insists its collection for use only in drug products — not transfusions — would help Canada better meet its plasma demand.

The province has said paying people poses a risk to Canada’s voluntary blood donation system, and accuses Canadian Plasma Resources of targeting the poor.

Plasma is a component of blood that can be used for transfusions and to make drugs that can treat patients for conditions like burns, severe infections and hemophilia.