Immunoglobulins are a special medicine which is manufactured from blood plasma donated by the public. The medicine is often used to treat conditions like long-term cancer or supporting people with immune system deficiencies.
In 1998 a ban was introduced on using plasma sourced in the United Kingdom because of the BSE and CJD outbreaks. However medicine has come a long way since then and the experts in medicine safety at the Commission on Human Medicines are confidence that UK sourced blood can now be used safely as there are many more robust safety and testing mechanisms in place.
By lifting the ban, thousands more critically ill patients will be able to benefit from swift treatments, saving lives and reducing our need for imported blood. Additionally the Government is going to introduce a new condition so that plasma drawn in the United Kingdom is used for United Kingdom patients first, so donations will really be helping local people.
Health Minister Lord Bethell said:
Following expert advice, I am pleased we are now able to lift this ban to help thousands of NHS patients access these potentially life-saving treatments as quickly as possible.
The move will also help England become self-sufficient and we will not have to rely only on imports from other countries, ensuring every NHS patient can always access the treatments they need.
The safety of NHS patients remains our absolute priority and we have put in place robust precautionary measures to ensure every batch is safe.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) undertook a comprehensive review of the evidence on the safety of UK blood plasma for the manufacture of immunoglobulins late last year.
The CHM then made the decision that it would be safe to lift the ban in the UK for this specific treatment, requesting that all collectors and manufacturers abide by a number of robust safety standards and risk mitigation measures, including the ability to trace donations from donor to patient. Every medicine will be individually reviewed and evaluated by the expert teams at the MHRA.
The NHS Blood and Transplant teams collect round 350,000 litres of plasma each year as part of blood donations for hospitals. Most of this has been used for transmission or thrown away, it is great to know that from now on every blood donation will be used entirely and will go towards saving even more lives.
If you want to donate blood or plasma you can do your bit by contacting the NHS on the site below
It is quick, it is simple and it really will help save lives.