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U.S. blood supply market approaching $2 billion.

U.S. blood supply market approaching $2 billion

Spending on blood and its component products will climb to $2.2 billion a year in the U.S. by 1991, according to a study recently completed by Frost & Sullivan, the international market research firm. That will be 57 per cent more than the $1.4 billion spent in 1986--a higher rate of increase than you can blame on inflation.

A key reason for the sharp climb is AIDS. Frost & Sullivan says HIV screening tests have pushed up blood supply costs by an average of $2.50 per unit collected. Extensive fear surrounding the epidemic is increasing costs in other ways as well, the firm adds, citing the loss of potential donors who mistakenly believe AIDS can be contracted by giving blood and the fact that many plasma products suspected of being tainted have now been destroyed.

"Unlike pharmaceuticals and diagnostics, there is no current substitute for blood and its derivatives,' Frost & Sullivan notes in its 224-page report, "Human Blood Products Market in the U.S.' Thanks to AIDS, however, efforts are being redoubled in recombinant DNA technology to produce blood products of assured purity.

The plasma derivatives made through genetic engineering procedures are more expensive than their naturally occurring counterparts. Nevertheless, Frost & Sullivan predicts biotechnology "will change the complexion of the plasma derivatives industry within the next five to 10 years, and the initial effects should be felt within three to five years.'

Dollar amounts in the report represent value at the supplier level. This year, the market for blood products used in the U.S. totaled nearly $1.6 billion. Domestic production is considerably higher than that, since significant amounts of plasma and its derivatives are shipped abroad.

Blood components make up about two-thirds of the total market and plasma fractions one-third (see Figure I). Frost & Sullivan points out that whole blood, declining in use at a rate near 5 per cent a year as a result of component therapy, now amounts to only a small percentage of blood component sales. Red cells account for more than 70 per cent of blood component sales and are growing in sales volume by nearly 9 per cent a year.

Human plasma, which accounts for about 10 per cent of blood component sales, has a more rapid growth rate than other products. The use of leukocytes has fallen off, replaced by antibiotics.

Plasma fractions--albumin, antihemophilic agents, gamma globulins, and others--are outpacing blood components in sales growth. Albumin makes up nearly six-tenths of the sales volume of plasma products.

As you can see, blood banking has gotten to be big business.

Table: Figure 1 What blood supplies cost in the U.S.--1987
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Author:Fitzgibbon, Robert J.
Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Article Type:editorial
Date:Dec 1, 1987
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