DOH warns vs illegal purchase, sale of plasma

August 09, 2020

THE Department of Health (DOH) strongly reminded the public against the buying and selling of convalescent plasma of recovered coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients.

Studies have shown that it could pose serious risks to patients, who may contract transfusion-transmissible infections (TTIs) such as HIV, hepatitis and malaria.

The reminder to the public is brought by increasing reports in the past weeks from families of critically-ill Covid-19 patients allegedly buying convalescent plasma from recovered patients, hospital staff and “fixers”.

There are also other reports that some intentionally infect themselves so that their plasma can be donated after recovery for which they are promised remuneration.

The DOH emphasized that these alleged transactions and practices are “illegal, reckless and dangerous.”

“Those individuals do not only place their lives at risk, but they also put their families and communities at risk when they voluntarily get infected,” it added.

Presently, only the Philippine Blood Center and the Philippine Red Cross-Port Area are the certified non-hospital-based convalescent plasma collection facilities, while Philippine

General Hospital and St. Luke’s Medical Center are the only hospitals certified to collect convalescent plasma for use in its treatment protocol.

Though used for Covid-19 treatment protocol in some local hospitals, its effectiveness as a therapy is still being evaluated and not yet part of the standard of care. To date, there is no concrete evidence to show that it is effective against SARS-CoV-2 -- the virus that causes COVID-19. 

“Trading blood and other blood products, including those from recovered COVID-19 patients, is not only illegal but highly dangerous. Convalescent plasma should not be for sale and should be voluntarily donated for Covid-19 patients in need,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque said.

According to the Republic Act 7719, also known as the “National Blood Service Act of 1994”, all blood and blood products shall be collected from volunteer blood donors only. Paid donation is not allowed, and facilities who will pay blood donors shall be penalized according to the DOH Administrative Order No. 36, series of 1994, Chapter VII, Section 26 and Chapter VIII, Section 41.

With officials from government hospitals like PGH calling for blood plasma donations from recovered Covid-19 patients, DOH emphasizes that these donations should be done voluntarily and should go through the official process so as to ensure the safety of both recipients and voluntary donors.

The DOH is calling on the aid of hospital chiefs to check their own staff if they engage in this practice and local government units to investigate the trade of convalescent plasma outside the realm of authorized health facilities. Likewise, DOH is appealing to relatives of patients to stop dealing with fixers operating inside and outside the hospital.
It also enjoined the public to only donate blood voluntarily.

“Only through voluntary donation will you be assured of your health and safety, and only through this selfless act of service will you reap the satisfaction of having helped save the life of someone in need,” it added.