This very interesting, educational and informative meeting was organised for the Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – by the Swedish patient organisation PIO on Saturday May 25, in Stockholm.
The very first Nordic meeting took place in 1998 and ever since then, representatives from each Nordic country have met every year to discuss and share common interests but, in view of the issues surrounding access to immunoglobulin, it was decided to hold this extraordinary meeting.
Presentations started with an educational and informative overview on plasma collections by Alexa Wetzel – Director Source Europe, PPTA.
Alexa began with the information that there are 11 private sector plasma collectors in Europe – 123 centres situated in Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and Hungary, collecting 2.4 million litres in 2018.
In 2015 over 48 million litres of source and recovered plasma were fractionated worldwide. It also showed that there is an urgent need for more plasma collection due to the increased demand.
A welcome explanation was given about “What is Plasma”, followed by the differences in whole blood and plasma donations, such as frequency of donations, duration of the donation and the process involved. The need for Plasma Derived Medicinal Products (PDMPs) is increasing and the EU relies very heavily on the US for the supply of plasma. EU countries have to be encouraged to create more collection programs focusing on the health of donors and the patients’ needs.
Alexa pointed out that the need for coexistence of private and public collection is key as is the need to increase awareness of plasma donations with the use of targeted campaigns such as “How is your Day”.
Julie Birkofer, Senior Vice President of North America and Global Health Policy PPTA, gave the next presentation on the Role of the Payer – Impacts on Patients’ Access to Ig and the Important Role of the Differentiation-Effective Communication with Payers.
Julie opened her talk with the names of the pharmaceutical companies, which are the PPTA manufacturers, and a world map showing where their manufacturing sites were located.
An in-depth explanation followed on the fractionation process that takes between 7 – 12 months. One litre of plasma consists of Albumin (25grams), Immunoglobulin (4 grams), Alpha-1 Antitrypsin (0.15 to 0.3 grams), Coagulation Factors. It can take 130+ donations to treat a single adult patient living with a PID for a year! The number of donation centres in the US has grown to 737 by the end of last year, compared to 123 in Europe.
Julie then spoke about access to treatment and the problems associated with this issue, such as HTA (might control funding), tendering process, economic restraints etc. There should be an effective communication with payers, including collaboration with patients, healthcare providers, PPTA, and the individual Company, not forgetting the important WHO Essential Medicine List.
Why is a plasma protein therapy different from other medicines? First of all, it is a biological product, which cannot be made in a laboratory. They are not generic and not interchangeable products that increase life expectancy, improve quality of life and reduce life threatening complications for patients with plasma protein deficiencies.
After lunch Jose Drabwell spoke about the global picture of plasma collection and Ig supply, the impact on patients’ health and quality of life, the differences between the Nordic countries and the importance of working together. Charts were shown regarding the annual increase in consumption rates across the continents and in Europe as well as the projected need for increased plasma to fulfil the growing demand for Plasma Derived Medicinal Products (PDMPs). Economic and political pressures are contributing to the difficulties in increasing the production of PDMPs.