Plasma proteins are the raw material with which to produce plasma-derived drugs, real lifesavers for rare, chronic and immunosuppressed patients. “However, 65% of the plasma collected in the world comes from the United States. 35% of the plasma used in Europe also comes from the United States.” This is what Danilo Medica, president of the Hemoderivatives Group of Farmindustria says, on the occasion of World Blood Donor Day 2021, to which Farmindustria adheres with a communication campaign launched on its social networks.
“In our country – explains Medica – through the National Self-Sufficiency Program, the Regions collect about 870 tons of plasma that allow to satisfy the demand for some derivative drugs up to 70-75%, but for others, such as anti-hepatitis immunoglobulins and anti-tetanus for example, we are totally dependent on the United States because this type of plasma is not yet collected in Italy “.
On the drop in plasma collection in our country in 2020, due to the Covid pandemic, Medica has no doubts: “In Italy there was a decline of about 2%” and “there is no alarm, although companies in the sector are preparing to face shortages. On the other hand, the situation in the United States is far worse, where in May 2020 the collection of plasma dropped by 40%, then on an annual basis it stood at -20%. what is more worrying is that also the first months of 2021 showed the same dynamics. Analysts, however, agree that it will probably be possible to return to an increase in volumes by the end of 2021. However, from the donation of plasma to the ready-made drug, on average 8-12 months, and in the meantime global demand continues to grow “.
Among the many damages that the pandemic has produced, Medica recalls, “we also record a significant increase in the cost of plasma”. For this reason, “in a context where supply really struggles to meet demand – says the president of the Farmindustria Hemoderivatives Group – it is necessary to implement all possible solutions to ensure that access is never lacking. to plasma-derived drugs to patients, for which they represent the only available therapy “.
Medica requires “proper planning for plasma derivatives. The United States since 2012 has a National Security Plan that has included plasma and plasma derivatives among those strategic health resources for the country. This means that, in the event of events that could threaten national security, plasma derivatives must be used as a priority in the US, even at the expense of trade agreements. And while this situation exists in the United States, in recent months most European countries have made sure that a renegotiation of plasma derivatives, also implementing procurement. I am referring to France “.
Criticality that “as Farmindustria we reported to the institutions as early as July 2020 – he underlines – and last November a table was set up with the Ministry of Health, Aifa, Regions, Farmindustria, National Blood Center and associations of haemophilia patients and donors. Objective: to find solutions to a probable lack of immunoglobulins. For our part we have put forward some proposals, now we are waiting to understand if these proposals will translate into concrete actions “.
In order to continue to guarantee constant access to plasma-derived drugs, Medica needs “to make a further effort: in addition to a correct medium-long term planning of procurement – he highlights – it is necessary to review some measures to contain pharmaceutical expenditure, to reduce the time of importing plasma in Italy “.
In Italy there are 7 companies in the sector: 6 multinationals and one all-Italian, mainly located in the Center-North. 1,700 employees work there, with an annual turnover for commercial products of 270 million euros.
“This is a sector that cannot ignore the commitment of donors – concludes the president of the Emoderivati Group of Farmindustria – In 2020, Italy marked a decline of only 2% compared to 2019, while today we have a +6, therefore the impact we have seen in the United States in our country has not been there. Furthermore, I want to remind you that the 1,600 Italian donors make a commendable effort, and we are sure that thanks to the sensitivity of the Italians we could resume growing in the collection of this strategic resource for the country. But we know that we need to look to the future, also by focusing on the loyalty of young people “.