Mar 10, 2022 - Health

Border dispute may threaten plasma supply

Bags of plasma sit in a lab.

Photo: Rolf Vennenbernd/picture alliance via Getty Images

Drug companies have asked federal courts to overturn the U.S. border officials' decision to stop allowing Mexican nationals to cross the border to be paid to donate blood plasma, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: The plasma is a critical component of treatments for some neurological and autoimmune diseases, and pharmaceutical companies have said that up to 10% of the plasma collected in the U.S. usually comes from Mexican nationals who have entered the country on visitor visas.

  • U.S. officials stopped the practice last year because they viewed it as labor for hire, which isn't allowed under visitor visas.

What they're saying: Advocacy groups are concerned about how the change will affect patients dependent on treatments made from plasma.

  • "We're very, very nervous that we're just on the cusp of possibly a very major shortage," Lisa Butler, executive director of Philadelphia-based GBS|CIDP Foundation International, told the Journal.
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