Bottles of plasma

Liquid Gold: Exploring the social landscape of expanding use of immune globulin in Canada

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Human plasma supplies over 25 therapeutic proteins to treat bleeding, haemostatic, immunological, and metabolic disorders. The plasma protein product in highest demand is Immune globulin (Ig) and uses of Ig have expanded significantly in recent years for many indications, driving up the demand for plasma donation.

Canadian Blood Services has undertaken a source plasma collection program opening 11 new source plasma collection sites over the next two years in response to the demand for plasma and the desire to be nationally self-sufficient. However, there is a dissonance between the product (that enters the clinic as a drug) and its connection to donors, the blood system, the industry that manufactures treatments, and stakeholders within the Canadian healthcare system. The diverse applications of this product across various disease areas means recipients of Ig and clinicians engaged in prescribing these products have different understandings and interpretations of its production, evaluation, dissemination and use in the healthcare system, contributing to possible inefficient or inappropriate uses of the product (such as off-label uses with little clinical evidence).

Objectives of the project:

  1. Map the pathway of Ig products from blood donor to Ig recipient in the Canadian healthcare system, considering the shifting social, political, and economic context.
  2. Document Ig recipients’ lived experiences of illness and treatment within social, cultural, familial, and institutional contexts;
  3. Investigate Ig recipients’ knowledge, perceptions and values related to the origins of the therapeutic products they have received, and the processes that determine which products are available;
  4. Document clinicians’ practice experiences involving Ig products and interactions with Ig recipients;
  5. Investigate clinicians’ knowledge, perceptions and values related to the origins of Ig therapeutic products, and the processes that determine which products are available;
  6. Generate policy-level insights into how best to achieve the equitable and cost-effective allocation of Ig products in the Canadian healthcare system.

This project has received funding from a SSHRC Insight Grant.

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Part time research assistant

Lead Faculty

Kelly Holloway

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