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Blood banks in Mumbai not processing adequate CP stock as state govt yet to revise prices

Shardul Nautiyal, Mumbai
Tuesday, December 29, 2020, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

The blood banks in Mumbai are not processing adequate single donor convalescent plasma (CP) stock as the state government is yet to revise prices of CP to make it feasible for its consistent supply.  

According to blood banks, there is an urgent need for price revision on single donor CP at Rs. 14,600 against the state government proposed price cap of Rs 5,500 to ensure that COVID-19 patients get CP therapy on a timely basis.

A plasma bank collects the blood component from an “eligible” recovered COVID-19 patient. It is later infused in a patient through CP therapy. It helps bring the respiratory rate of a moderate COVID-19 patient into control and increases oxygen saturation rate apart from stabilizing various other factors, reducing the stay in an intensive care unit (ICU) and hospital, and improving the recovery chances from COVID-19.

“CP is priced right now at Rs. 5,500 which does not include antibody cost incurred while processing. Even civic body BMC initially had fixed the price at Rs 7,500. The Federation of Bombay Blood Banks (FBBB) too had pitched for Rs 7,500. All these suggestions are yet not accepted which has resulted in blood banks not processing adequate CP stock. There is tremendous demand versus poor supply these days”, said Dr Abhijit Bopardikar, joint secretary, FBBB.  

The issue of processing charge for CP has been discussed with the Maharashtra State Blood Transfusion Council (SBTC) and industry experts, including the Dean of Government Medical College (GMC) Nagpur.

In Mumbai, there are roughly 14 plasma banks and 25 in Maharashtra. In the country, there are around 60 blood banks offering CP therapy.

According to FBBB, which has under its fold 52 blood banks in Mumbai, “The proposed price cap on CP of Rs. 5,500 is way below the break-even for CP therapy for COVID-19 treatment and may cause blood banks to incur losses, in which case citing non-viability most blood banks may abandon this activity causing a great disservice to deserving patients.”

A COVID-19 patient requires 400 ml of plasma and plasmapheresis gives 500 ml of plasma in one sitting as a maximum collection granted by FDA from human blood while component separation centrifuge method from whole blood gives 200 ml in one sitting or session.

As per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines issued on June 13, 2020, plasma collection should be done by centrifugal separation using an apheresis machine or equipment at the healthcare facility.

“Very few blood banks in Mumbai have the license and expertise to process single donor CP and this recommended charge of Rs. 5,500 (in the absence of subsidies for kits and other mandatory donor screening tests) may be a major deterrent for them to continue CP therapy for COVID-19 treatment. The option of whole blood-derived plasma at Rs. 400 per unit is always available as discussed during our previous meeting and can be fully utilized for un-affording patients if deemed fit,” the FBBB letter to the state health ministry stated.

CP therapy has gained a lot of prominence in the country amidst growing demand for emergency use authorized (EUA) medicines like remdesivir and tocilizumab among other expensive drugs.


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