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Harvesting the Blood of America’s Poor: The Latest Stage of Capitalism (mintpressnews.com)
41 points by yesbut on March 26, 2022 | hide | past | favorite | 8 comments

I wish the title just used “plasma” instead of “blood”. The plasma industry and red blood cell industries are really different. Also, companies doing Young Plasma are a super small portion of the industry. The FDA also asked them to stop.

The plasma industry has huge 10 billion dollar companies like Grifols. The red blood cell industry is mostly dominated by the Red Cross in most places, but also includes smaller non profits and some for-profit companies. The margins for red blood cells sold to hospitals are really thin (they charge ~$200 per unit, depending on a lot of factors), and I don’t think those companies are as sketchy and profit driven as the plasma industry.

I would still recommend donating blood. Hospitals really need that stuff, and it gets expensive when it hard to find donors.

The biggest criticism of the red cell industry is that the shortage is entirely artificial. There’s a pretty large population with hereditary hemochromatosis who have to get regular phlebotomists to prevent a buildup of excess iron.

Most blood banks (including the Red Cross) won’t accept hemochromatomates as donors, so all that perfectly good blood gets poured down the drain. The ostensible reason is they don’t want “motivated donors”, the real reason is because blood banks get fat reimbursements for “therapeutic phlebotomies”.

That's a really interesting thing to think about. Thanks for the comment. I was aware of hemochromatosis and therapeutic phlebotomy (thanks Sawbones podcast!). I never put two and two together and thought about how it could be a source of blood products.

It looks like FDA changed the regulations in 2016 to allow blood centers to accept donations from patients with hereditary hemochromatosis[0]. I wonder what fraction of blood centers in the US actually accept such donations, though. (Sadly, it doesn't surprise me that reimbursements would be a driving factor for throwing away perfectly usable blood.)

[0] https://www.redcrossblood.org/content/dam/redcrossblood/docu...

>the real reason is because blood banks get fat reimbursements for “therapeutic phlebotomies”.

Is there a reason why the government/insurance don't change their policies? It seems pretty weird for all parties involved to throw away blood from "therapeutic phlebotomies".

Having aimlessly driven through lots of economically challenged areas in varying MSAs, the businesses present give the most consistent confirmation of an area's status. Unfortunately, many of the businesses are vice targeted and/or highly exploitative in nature. CSL Plasma, generic tobacco/liquor/vape/lotto shops, payday loans, Metro/Boost (just their marketing strategy), and greasy box restaurants are the typical signs of lower commercial rents. This also means that larger national brands may avoid the area because the census data doesn't line up with their ideal demographics, so you end up with way more diversity in mom and pop restaurants and random niche hobby stores.

If you’re even moderately not-poor, you can still sell but why would you? Blood is more replaceable than kidneys but no one prefers to be drained. Unless you’re feeling charitable, in which case your ethic is to donate.

Of course you market to people likely to respond. I doubt you’d get hedge fund chairmen or senators to respond.

If there aren't government subsidies or tighter regulations around donating blood, I unfortunately don't see any major changes happening.

predatory blood banks aren't new and this has nothing to do with capitalism

capitalism does not mean evil business. these are not investments

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